Officials say the search for survivors at the site of Greece’s deadliest train crash has ended. At least 57 bodies and human remains have been removed from the wreckage, but an undisclosed number of passengers remain missing. VOA reports on the growing anger and frustration across the nation as protests come with the end of a three-day period of national mourning.
Firefighters and volunteers say a final inspection of mangled passenger rail cars would be completed by the end of Friday, before fleets of cranes and heavy machinery moved to clear wreckage and restore the operation of Greece’s railway network.
The carriages were thrown off the tracks, crushed, and engulfed in flames when a high-speed passenger train packed with some 350 people, mainly university students, collided head-on with a freight train late Tuesday.
Rescue crews say all forensic evidence had been gathered from the rail cars, but a final sweep of the wagons would be conducted before they were moved. A final batch of black bags with forensic evidence, mobile phones, ruck sacks and personal belongings were delivered to police late Thursday to assist in ongoing investigations.
But frustration and anger is growing among grieving relatives and Greeks altogether.
A Greek government spokesman said the stationmaster on duty near the site of Tuesday’s train collision has admitted to being guilty of negligence.
On Friday, railway workers walked off their jobs for a second day, complaining of a train network that remains outdated, underfunded and dangerous because of lacking security systems that Greek taxpayers paid for decades ago, but have yet to see installed.
In Athens and Larissa, near the site of the crash, students protested in the streets, accusing authorities of waging what they called a “cover up.” They vowed in massive banners they hoisted during their protests to become, as they put it, “the voice of the dead.”
The demonstrations took place as scores of parents and relatives remained gathered outside a hospital near the site of the crash, waiting for the results of DNA tests that could identify their loved ones. By Friday, only 24 of the remains collected by crews from the wreckage have been identified, bringing painful closure to relatives.
For dozens more, the agony continues, especially for those whose relatives remain missing and unaccounted for.
Dimitris Bournazis, who lost his father and 15-year-old brother, is among them.
“No one has told us anything,” he told television crews. “I’ve called the railway company four times to get some sort of information about my relatives, and I have been placed on hold with a machine-operated message system telling me how to enjoy Greece’s safest travel.”
The government of conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has vowed to set up a cross-party committee to investigate the causes of the crash, afford speedy justice and remedy longstanding flaws in the country’s railway system.
Critics say the action is late by 57 lost lives.