Home News At least 36 dead, 85 injured after trains collide in northern Greece

At least 36 dead, 85 injured after trains collide in northern Greece


ATHENS — A passenger train and a freight train collided overnight in northern Greece, killing at least 36 people and injuring 85 others as plumes of smoke filled the sky.

The crash occurred shortly before midnight near Tempe Valley in northern Greece, the Hellenic Fire Service said. At least 66 of those injured were still hospitalized, with six people in intensive care, as of 10 a.m. local time.

The passenger train was riding along a route between two major cities, the capital Athens and Thessaloniki, when it collided with the cargo train about 255 miles north of Athens. The cause remains unknown.

Fire service spokesman Vassilis Varthakoyiannis said the evacuation was “being carried out under very difficult conditions.” He said the damage to the train cars was so severe that crane trucks were used to help with vehicle extrication, and a local TV channel reported that some people were still trapped in passenger carriages earlier in the morning.

Authorities said they had started identifying victims but did not know the exact toll yet, with at least 194 surviving passengers transferred to Thessaloniki by bus. The Greek transport and infrastructure minister, Kostas Karamanlis, pledged to investigate the cause of the incident.

Some of the injured were transported to hospitals in the nearby city of Larissa, and at least 150 firefighters and dozens of emergency vehicles were dispatched to the scene.

Many of the passengers were young, Apostolos Komnos, head of the intensive care unit at the General Hospital of Larissa, told reporters.

Some of the victims were university students, Greek Health Minister Athanasios Plevris said in televised remarks outside the hospital. “This is a terrifying process for parents and relatives who are here. We will help them as much as we can,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Athens said it was not aware of any American victims, adding it was “deeply saddened by the news of the tragic train collision this morning.”

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou’s office said she cut short a visit to Moldova and was on her way to visit the crash site, and the country announced three days of national mourning.

Footage from the crash site showed flames surrounding the derailed train cars, as well as the swirling lights of firetrucks and ambulances nearby. At least two train cars appeared to be tipped sideways near the track, while one train car had severely dented and gaping windows, as firefighters worked to extricate passengers.

By 8:30 a.m., at least a dozen people, including rescue workers in uniform, continued to rummage through rubble at the base of an overturned blue passenger car that remained in an open field, according to Reuters footage. Another passenger car appeared to be mangled as workers slowly began lifting it into the air using a crane. Workers were also seen on live broadcasts carrying a body on a stretcher into an ambulance.

A local stationmaster was being questioned by police early Wednesday, Greece’s state-owned television broadcaster ERT reported.

Railway safety in Greece has come under scrutiny in recent years, and the accident late Tuesday marks one of the country’s deadliest in decades. A 1968 train collision in the ancient coastal city of Corinth left at least 34 people dead and dozens injured.

Greece had the highest overall railway fatality rate among 29 countries studied in a 2022 European Union Agency for Railways safety report, and the seventh-highest fatality rate for passengers.

Kasulis Cho reported from Seoul. Francis reported from London.