At least 36 dead and dozens injured in the derailment of a Greek train

Officials said a freight train and a passenger train collided head-on.

The accident occurred just before midnight in the town of Tempe along the Athens-Thessaloniki road at the entrance to the Tempe Valley, a tree-lined corridor separating the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia in northern Greece. The two trains were heading toward each other on the same track, and the force of the high-speed collision derailed several cars, with some catching fire, according to the Hellenic Fire Service.

About 350 people were on board the northbound passenger train, which was heading from Athens to Thessaloniki, according to Hellenic Railways.

At least 150 firefighters, some from specialized units, and 40 ambulances responded to the scene with the help of 32 police officers and 15 patrol cars, according to the Hellenic Fire Service.

The next morning, rescuers were still searching for survivors in the smoking wreckage, using cranes to lift the derailed wagons. A Greek fire service spokesman said in a statement early Wednesday that their efforts were initially focused on the first two cars, which “flipped over” and were “the hardest to get out of.”

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The impact of the collision left the passenger train restaurant car on top of two other cars. A Greek fire service spokesman said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that a fire broke out in that carriage, with temperatures reaching 1,300 degrees Celsius (2,372 degrees Fahrenheit), “making it difficult to identify the people inside”.

A 59-year-old Greek national has been arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the fatal accident, according to the Greek Greek police.

Meanwhile, a Greek police spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that the authorities were still working to identify the dead, whose bodies were taken to the general hospital in the nearby city of Larissa.

As for the injured, 72 are still in hospital, including six in critical condition, while the rest have been treated and left hospital, according to the Greek Fire Service.

The Greek government declared three days of national mourning in the wake of the tragedy.

Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced his resignation on Wednesday after visiting the crash site in Tempe, saying he felt it was his “duty” to do so as a “sign of respect” to the victims.

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“When something tragic happens, it’s impossible to carry on as if it didn’t happen,” Karamanlis said he wrote in a Facebook post. This is called political responsibility.

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