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Op-Ed: Not a strike but a mourning day for the train victims

It took me hours today to get myself together and write a post about the commemoration actions and the marches of angry Greeks demanding Justice for the 57 victims of the Tempi train disaster on 28. February 2023.

I lost my inner balance today and the reason was a new video showing the fatal train leaving the station in Larissa with end destination Thessaloniki. Just 12 minutes before the collision.

I felt a freezing inside me after I saw this video, reading the dialogue between the train staff and the station head master. Just 12 minutes before the collision with the cargo train that took the lives of 57 mostly young people, left others physically and emotionally cripples, emptied the children’s rooms and the mothers’ arms.

The picture of the train with closed door leaving the station.. an long iron coffin on the way to nowhere… has literally devastated me. Much more than the footage that followed with the collision and the big fire.

  • Head master: <62>, doors closed. We are ready.
  • Train staff: <62> doors closed. Ready.

For 12 minutes the train is on the false track, on collision course with the cargo train and nobody notices.

Video: train moves at 0:42

The video was obtained by daily kathimerini and is recorded by at least three cameras.

I watched this specific video screen again and again, this train moving slowly and without noise. Moving slowly and then at a high speed of 160 km/h. I “saw” the passengers inside, relaxed on their seats, tired and half-asleep as it is short before midnight.

As the day forward, the more overwhelmed I get. By the survivors’ testimonies, by the mourning mothers and fathers and grannies, by the partners and friends.

Survivors recall the dramatic moments how they managed to get out of the crashed wagons, injured and in shock, how they searched for their friends, how they pulled them dead or injured out of the metal debris. The screaming of dozens of people calling for help.

How they survived this one year, with frequent hospital visits and treatments, some of them still bound on wheelchairs, unable to drink a glass of water by their own. How their life and the family’s life was ruined.

Mostly young people in their early 20’s.

“A piece of me was left there, I try to not remember,” a young man who was traveling with his girl friend told media. His girl-friend died on the spot.

And then the parents. Devastated mothers with running eyes recall how they were informed about the tragedy, when was the last time they spoke with their children, how they cope with the trauma. They don’t.

“Justice. All we want is justice and those responsible behind bars. enough with their lies,” said a father who lost his daughter.

57 people between 15 and 59 years old. Killed.

In addition: a young girl that allegedly “disappeared” without leaving any trace behind and one Syrian refugee.

At least 5 of the victims died due to the explosion and the fire.

A year later, investigators still haven’t identified the “mysterious” substance the cargo train was transporting and caused the explosion.

Don’t you wanna scream?

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5 comments

  1. It was extremely upsetting to watch.😢

  2. “A year later, investigators still haven’t identified the “mysterious” substance the cargo train was transporting and caused the explosion.

    Don’t you wanna scream?”

    Yes indeed and not only about this awful thing.

    The “mysterious substance” is THE WHY all these people lost their lives – and not only directly, there was a “suicide” (mea culpa I messed up the tracking” PLUS the unfortunate chap who died in a motorcycle something or other.

    RIP TO ALL VICTIMS OF COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

  3. and still a year on, not a single ‘important’ person has been even charged with anything much less tried or sentenced. no investigation worth the name. not a peep about where all the money went that was supposedly for signalling and switching systems on the rail lines. nobody who was in office or in charge of anything during those years or ever since then, has even had to answer any serious questions about the matter much less face a court.

  4. They will continue to make excuses, lie, and point the finger until we forget. We will be distracted again with the next tragic event, scandal or media frenzy.

    The real terrible and tragic thing is that we will continue to kiss these politicians asses and vote for them to get us the job, the transfer, the permit, the contract, etc…

    The same people we want punished are the ones we voted for, just a few months later, and are still running the country. All for our own personal gain. Shame on us!

    Why do we still ride these trains? Why do we still vote for these corrupt, entitled narcissists? and then become angry demanding accountability and justice when things go terribly wrong. When will we take some responsibility for state of this contry?!

  5. I have never ridden on a Greek train but I shiver when I read the stories about this crash. I used to live in northern Greece and at the time my landlady’s daughter was studying at university in Athens. She used to travel regularly backwards and forwards between Thessaloniki and Athens by coach. Then in April 2003 there was a massive crash which caused a coach to veer off the road into a ravine killing 23 and injuring 29, mostly teenagers. My landlady’s daughter immediately switched to using the train because “it was much safer”. I shiver as I wonder how many of the people killed in this train crash were using the train because they believed it to be “much safer” but also because that coach crash occurred in the Tembi pass. Is that place jinxed?