Two trains collided head-on in high speed at Greece, killing 36 people and injuring dozens more.
Just before midnight, a passenger train traveling from Athens towards the northern city Of Thessaloniki collided to a freight train just outside Larissa.
The collision occurred near the Vale of Teme. This gorge separates Thessaly from Macedonia.
Two carriages in the ‘nightmare’ train crash ‘no more exist’ – Follow live updates
Police reported that several carriages were thrown off the tracks, with at most three of them setting themselves ablaze.
Kostas Agorastos (regional governor of Thessaly) stated that 250 survivors were evacuated by buses to Thessaloniki.
He said that the collision caused the carriages in the passenger train to collide so violently that they “no longer exist”.
He said, “They were traveling at great speed and the driver didn’t see the other coming.”
Hellenic Train, a rail operator, stated that it carried around 350 passengers.
Officials stated that this includes university students who returned home from Carnival this year.
Mina Gaga, Deputy Health Minister, said that “this is a terrible tragedy which is difficult to understand.” “I feel so sorry to the parents of these children.”
The scene was visited by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister.
Footage showed rescuers in thick smoke, wearing headlamps and pulling metal pieces from carriages to find trapped people.
Others searched the field with flashlights, and looked under the wreckage.
Many of the bodies are believed to have been found near the front of a passenger train.
“This is a terrible evening,” Mr Agorastos previously told state-run television. It’s difficult to describe the scene.
Regional governor said: “The front section was smashed…we’re getting cranes and special lifting equipment. The crash site is littered with debris.
According to survivors, several passengers were thrown out of the windows by the impact.
One passenger said to state broadcaster ERT, “There was fire near us.” We found a hole, and we were able to escape. We were able to get out of the wagon by spinning it, then turning on its side.
It was terrifying to see the flames for a mere 10 seconds. The smoke caused panic in the carriage and you couldn’t see the world around you.
Stergios Minenis (a 28-year old passenger) jumped from the wreckage to safety and said, “We heard a loud bang.”
“We were turning in the wagon until our sides fell… then panic set in, cables were thrown (everywhere the fire started immediately, and we were being burned as we turned over.”
Officials from the fire service said that 36 people were killed and 85 were hurt.
“The evacuation process continues and is being done under very difficult circumstances due to the severity collision between the trains,” Vassilis Vathrakogiannis , spokesperson for the fire brigade, told a news conference.
He said that hospitals with specialization in treating burns had been placed on alert.
Ambulances from nearby towns were dispatched to transport injured passengers to the hospitals. Rescue workers continued to work in thick smoke.
Officials from the government said that the army was asked to assist with the rescue.
Vassilis Polyzos, who was a local resident and one of the first to arrive on the scene, said that there were “many big pieces of iron.”
“The trains were totally destroyed, both freight and passenger trains.”
As he arrived, he said that people were disoriented and dazed as they fled from the rear cars of the train.
He said, “People were naturally scared, very scared.” “They looked around, searched; they didn’t know where they were.”
It is unknown what caused the collision.