Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has apologized for one of the country’s
worst train crashes in years, saying “We cannot, will not, and must not hide behind
A passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train on
Tuesday evening in Tempi, near the city of Larissa, killing at least 57 people and
injuring scores more.
In a statement, Mitsotakis said it should not be possible for two trains moving in
opposite directions “to be on the same track and not be noticed by anyone.”
“As prime minister, I owe everyone, but above all to the relatives of the victims, a big
sorry. Both personally, and in the name of all those who ruled the country for years,”
The reference to human error marks a change of tone from the prime minister. In the
aftermath of the collision he blamed “tragic human error.”
His latest statement though suggested systematic problems in the Greek railway
network, promising announcements in the coming days to “immediately improve the
safety of the railways.”
On Thursday after a train station manager was arrested in Larissa in connection with
the collision, Greek authorities made public dispatch recordings revealing that one of
the train drivers involved had received instructions to ignore a red light.
Greece has a poor record of railway passenger safety compared with other countries
in Europe, recording the highest railway fatality rate per million train kilometers
from 2018 to 2020 among 28 nations on the continent, according to a 2022 report
from the European Union Agency for Railways.
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The head-on collision left toppled carriages and scorched debris in its wake. Many of
those on board were young people returning home from a holiday weekend.
Fresh protests broke out on Sunday over the crash, the country’s transport minister
resigned in the wake of the tragedy and a rail workers’ union went on strike, accusing
the government of neglecting the system.