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Greece train crash 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 service officials said .

Several carriages derailed and at least three caught fire after the accident 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 underway and is taking place under very difficult conditions due to the seriousness of the collision between the two trains,” said Vassilis Varthakoyiannis, spokesman for the fire department. Hospital units used to treat burns were alerted to the area, he said, adding that dozens of ambulances were involved in the rescue effort.

Survivors said several passengers were thrown through carriage windows. They said others fought to free themselves after the passenger train twisted, slamming into a field alongside the tracks.

Rescuers wearing headlamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled sheet metal from wrecked train cars to search for trapped people.

“It was a very powerful collision. It’s a terrible night,” Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of the central region of Thessaly, told state television. “The front part of the train was broken.”

The governor added that cranes and “special lifting equipment” were arriving to clear the debris and lift the railcars. “There is debris thrown all around the crash site,” he said.

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

Lightly injured or uninjured passengers were taken by bus to Thessaloniki, about 80 miles to the north. Police took their names when they arrived, aiming to track down anyone who might be missing.

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

His car didn’t derail, but others in front of him did and were smashed, he said, visibly shaken. He said he used a bag to break a window and escape.

Government officials said the military had been contacted to help with the rescue. Hellenic Train, a rail operator, said the passenger train, heading north from Athens to Thessaloniki, had around 350 passengers on board when the collision occurred.

nytimes Gt

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