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Thursday 1 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Stock Photo The collision scene in Tempi Valley, Greece
# Athens
Greece faces fresh protests in wake of fatal train crash
57 people, many of them students, were killed when a passenger train and freight train collided head-on last month.

THOUSANDS OF DEMONSTRATORS staged fresh protests in Greece today as anger grows over the country’s deadliest rail crash, ratcheting up pressure on the government over the tragedy.

Protesters flooded Syntagma Square in front of the parliament building in Athens, waving banners that read “we won’t forget, we won’t forgive” and “we will become the voice of all the dead”.

57 people, many of them students, were killed when a passenger train and freight train collided head-on in central Greece on 28 February.

Four railway officials have been charged but public anger has focused on long-running mismanagement of the network and the country has been rocked by a series of mass protests that have sometimes turned violent.

About 5,000 demonstrators gathered outside parliament in Athens today while a similar number took to the streets of the second city Thessaloniki, according to police.

“It was anger and rage that brought me here,” Markella, a 65-year-old Athens protester, told AFP.

Another demonstrator, 26-year-old Alexandros, said: “We’re getting desperate. You don’t know what to say, what to do — all you can do is join the protest.”

The rallies came in response to calls from various bodies, from trade unions to political groups, to take to the streets.

The biggest protests over the crash so far came on Wednesday when tens of thousands demonstrated nationwide with clashes erupting while workers staged strikes.

Workers in the public and private sectors are expected to walk out again Thursday.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is fighting to be re-elected within months, has faced calls from some protesters to quit.

He has come under fire for initially pointing to “human error” for the accident, and blaming the stationmaster on duty at the time who allegedly routed the trains onto the same stretch of track by accident.

But railway unions had long been warning about problems on the country’s creaking, understaffed train network.

The stationmaster is among the four railway officials who have been charged.

Greece’s transport minister resigned after the crash and Mitsotakis has sought to soothe public anger by repeatedly apologising and vowing a transparent probe.

National elections look set to be delayed from April, when they were widely expected, with speculation they could take place in late May.

© AFP 2023

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