32 killed in trains collision in Greece, 85 others injured

Wednesday March 01 2023
Greek emergency personnel looking for survivors

Police and emergency crew on March 1, 2023 search the debris of a crushed train wagon in the Tempi Valley near Larisa, Greece. Greek authorities said at least 32 people were killed after two colliding trains caused a derailment near Larissa on February 28, 2023. PHOTO | SAKIS MITROLIDIS | AFP)


Greek authorities on February 28, 2023, said at least 32 people were killed and 85 others injured after a collision between two trains caused a derailment near the city of Larissa.

A fire services spokesman confirmed that multiple carriages skipped the tracks just before midnight after the trains, one for freight and the other carrying 350 passengers, collided about halfway along the route between Athens and Thessaloniki.

"Thirty-two people have been found dead," spokesman Vassilis Vathrakogiannis told reporters, adding that efforts to rescue people still trapped were ongoing.

"Of the 85 people injured, 53 people remain in hospital." he added.

An explanation for the cause of the train collision has not yet been released.

Greek media are calling the crash the “worst train accident in Greece.”


The passenger train was travelling from the Greek capital Athens to second city Thessaloniki in North Greece, while the freight train was heading in the opposite direction.

According to Greek emergency services, about 150 firefighters and 40 ambulances were mobilised for the response. Cranes and mechanical personnel were also deployed to try to remove debris and lift overturned vehicles.

"I've never seen anything like this in my entire life. It's tragic. Five hours later, we are still finding bodies," said an exhausted rescuer emerging from the wreckage where his team were working. 

One train carriage completely crushed and smoky car flames made the rescuers' work particularly difficult.

"The majority of passengers have been taken to safety," spokesman Vathrakogiannis said.

"The operation to free trapped people is underway and is taking place in difficult conditions, due to the seriousness of the collision between the two trains." he added.

According to the Greek national television station ERT, one of the train cars caught fire after the collision and several people were trapped inside.

The mayor of the nearby town of Tempi, Yorgos Manolis, told ERT many students had been on board the train, returning to Thessaloniki after a long holiday weekend.

'Stained with blood'

One passenger named Lazos told a Greek newspaper Protothema, that the experience was "very shocking".

"I wasn't hurt, but I was stained with blood from other people who were injured near me," he said.

On the Greek local media site Onlarissa, a young woman in tears said that the train was stopped for a few minutes when they heard a deafening noise.

Another shaken passenger told Skai television that the train windows suddenly exploded making passengers scream in fear.

"Fortunately, we were able to open the doors and escape fairly quickly. In other wagons, they did not manage to get out. One wagon even caught fire," he added.

An emergency government meeting was organised after the crash, and Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris went to the scene while Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos supervised the response from a crisis management centre.

According to Greek fire services, two hospitals near Larissa have been requisitioned to accommodate the many injured, while military hospitals in Thessaloniki and Athens were also "on alert" in case they were needed.