At least 32 people were killed and 85 injured in northern Greece when a passenger train collided head-on with a high-speed freight train late Tuesday night, just before midnight. The passenger train, en route from Athens to Thessaloniki, had about 350 passengers on board, according to rail operator Hellenic Train. The collision took place near the town of Tempe, about 255 miles north of Athens. Many of the passengers were university students returning home after celebrating Carnival over a long holiday weekend, officials said.
Rescue crews worked through the night to pull survivors from the mangled train, and they brought in cranes and other heavy equipment when the sun rose. As of Wednesday morning, it was still considered a rescue operation, BBC News reports.
The trains collided right before the Vale of Tempe, which connects the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia. Many of the fatalities were near the front of the train, in the restaurant car and first carriages. "Carriage One and Two no longer exist, and the third has derailed," Thessaly Gov. Costas Agorastos told Skai Television. At least 194 survivors not in need of hospitalization were transported to Thessaloniki by bus.
The cause of the train collision, already one of the deadliest in Greek history, is under investigation. "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," The Washington Post reports. There were at least 11 fatal train collisions or derailments recorded in Greece between 1980 and 2019, and a 1968 collision near Corinth left at least 34 people dead.