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Violent protests ignite in Greece over train crash as prime minister apologizes

Tempers flared in Greece on Sunday as protesters clashed with police over a deadly train crash that killed 57 people, in the worst rail disaster in Greek history. 

Demonstrators gathered outside the Greek Parliament building in Athens — BBC News estimated that the crowd numbered at least 12,000. Violence soon erupted, with police using tear gas to drive the protesters back as they began throwing Molotov cocktails and lighting trash bins on fire. 

Greece has erupted in anger following the crash last Tuesday between a freight train and a passenger train. The two trains collided head-on, causing both to derail and burst into flames. While the cause of the crash is under investigation, The New York Times reported that the trains were speeding at each other for at least 12 minutes before colliding. 

Greece has long had one of Europe's worst rail safety records, with CNN citing "the highest railway fatality rate per million train kilometers from 2018 to 2020 among 28 nations." Protesters have been demanding reforms to the country's railway regulations, and the Greek transport minister has already resigned in the wake of the crash. 

The protests continued even as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologized for the accident. In a translated statement from Facebook, Mitsotakis wrote that he owes "everyone, but above all the relatives of the victims, a big SORRY."

"We all know that the country's railways are deeply troubled," Mitsotakis added. "It is perhaps the extreme expression of a Greece that does not suit us and we want to leave it behind." Despite the apology, the protests continued in Athens throughout the day.