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Greeks Push On with Sit-ins and Protests Despite Tragic Train Accident

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Thousands of Greek students staged sit-ins and took part in protests in Athens on Friday, demanding justice for those who lost their lives in the country’s most serious train accident.

A passenger train and a freight train crashed in Larissa, Greece, on Tuesday, killing at least 57 people. The passenger train carried approximately 350 passengers, many of whom are still missing.

About 5,000 protesters gathered in the capital outside the offices of network operators Hellenic Train, who took over the entire network in 2017, to express their anger at the decades-old inability to increase the security of the rail network despite near-fatal accidents in the past.

After the protesters put the word “murderers” on the building’s glass facade in red, the crowd screamed angrily. “We are very angry. It is unacceptable that such a horrific incident happened in 2023,” said one of the protesters, Angelos Thomopoulos.

He told Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse) to demand accountability for those involved in these atrocities and not to cover up anything, we are marching today to the streets. The majority of the protesters were university students, many of them the same age as the victims of Tuesday’s collision, the worst train accident in Greek history.

Another protester, Maria Psacelli, said her child was traveling a lot on the same trip to attend university, according to what she told AFP at the Athens rally.

“I’m thinking of the families of the victims,” ​​she said with tears in her eyes. Subsequent protests are planned in Athens and Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.

Most of the victims were students in their twenties returning from a long weekend. Students were staging sit-ins at more than two dozen colleges and university schools across the country.

Black sheets were draped at the entrances to several universities and white roses were thrown on the tracks of the local train station in Larissa. The commander of the Larisa station was arrested on duty at the time of the disaster and charged with negligent homicide.

He has accepted partial responsibility for not rerouting the trains and faces a possible life sentence if convicted. But train unionists note that safety problems on the Athens-Thessaloniki railway have been known for years.

Five years after Greek state-owned railway company Trainose was privatized, sold to Italy’s Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane, and renamed Hellenic Train, safety mechanisms on the line are still not fully automated. “I was always hesitant to use the train because I knew this line was not safe,” said Aphrodite, a 20-year-old student. The company received a bomb threat on Friday, but it turned out to be a fake one.

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