Train crash in Greece kills 29

TEMPE, Greece — A passenger train collided with an oncoming freight train in northern Greece early Wednesday, killing 29 people and injuring at least 85, Greek Fire Brigade officials said.

Several train cars derailed and at least three caught fire after the crash near Tempe, a small town about 235 miles north of Athens. Hospital officials in the nearby town of Larissa said at least 25 people were seriously injured.

“The evacuation process is ongoing and is being carried out under very difficult conditions due to the severity of the collision between the two trains,” said Vassilis Varthakoyiannis, a spokesman for the fire service. Hospital units deployed to treat burn victims have been alerted in the area, he said, adding that dozens of ambulances were involved in the rescue effort.

Survivors said several passengers were thrown through the windows of the train cars. They said others struggled to get free after the passenger train buckled and slammed into a field next to the tracks.

Rescuers with headlamps worked through thick smoke, pulling shredded sheet metal from the crashed train cars to search for trapped people.

“It was a very strong collision. This is a terrible night,” Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of the Central Thessaly region, told state television. “The front part of the train was smashed.”

The governor added that cranes and “special lifting equipment” would come in to clear the debris and lift the railroad cars. “Debris was thrown all around the crash site,” he said.

The cause of the collision was not initially clear. Two railway officials were questioned by the police but not arrested.

Passengers, who were slightly injured or unharmed, were taken by bus to Thessaloniki, about 80 miles north. Police took their names when they arrived to locate any missing persons.

A teenage survivor, who got off one of the buses and did not give his name, told Greek reporters that he felt heavy braking and saw sparks just before the crash.

His carriage did not derail, but others did and were smashed, he said, visibly shaken. He said he used a bag to smash a window and escape.

Government officials said the army had been contacted to help with the rescue. Hellenic Train, a rail operator, said the passenger train, traveling northbound from Athens to Thessaloniki, had about 350 passengers on board when the collision occurred. Train crash in Greece kills 29

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