In Athens, Greeks shout their “great fury” after the train crash
“We feel great rage!”: 12,000 people chanted their anger in front of the parliament in Athens on Sunday, a rally marked by violent clashes between demonstrators and police after the train crash that sent a wave of anger across Greece.
Greed and the lack of measures taken to protect passengers led to the worst train tragedy in our country,” said Michalis Hasiotis, president of the Association of Accountants, who was carried in the procession.
“We feel great anger!” He added that after the tragedy on Tuesday evening when the authorities called on Greeks to come to account, students, railway workers and public service workers.
Farther away, in Syntagma Square below the parliament in central Athens, placards and banners decry: “Down with murderous governments!”, “This is not a human error!”.
– “crime” –
Other participants distributed incriminating leaflets showing the face of Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: “Crime Minister Wanted” in red.
Hundreds of black balloons floated in the great blue sky of Athens to pay tribute to the 57 people who died in a head-on collision between a freight train and a passenger train linking Athens north to Thessaloniki.
Most of the victims were young people and students returning to the large university city of Thessaloniki after a long weekend.
The televised, heartbreaking images of tearful parents waiting anxiously in front of hospitals for information on the fate of their children helped to cast shame on the authorities and their management of the disaster.
The tragedy raised a great deal of anger over the negligence and shortcomings of the railways.
After the accident, the fourth meeting disintegrated into violent incidents.
– “Nothing Happens” –
“They tear gassed us and the old people couldn’t breathe. How do you think we remember the dead?”, student Kallikradis Pavlakis fumed after relative calm had returned.
“Nothing is going right in this country, hospitals are dying, schools are closing, forests are burning… who are you kidding?”, continues Nikos Sikalakis, head of the railway union.
The apology by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who apologized to the victims’ families in a rare solemn announcement on Sunday, did nothing to assuage anger amid widespread protests.
This mea culpa is “a hypocrisy”, thundered Mariana Kronopoulou, a primary school teacher who attended the demonstration. “He knew the railway network was in a bad state and he did nothing”.
Dilapidated condition of railway network, various problems in signaling and safety system on railway lines have been pointed out.
On Sunday, trains and metros came to a standstill across the country.
Not far from the demonstration, meanwhile, the prime minister took part in a religious service at Athens’ Orthodox cathedral as all churches in the country paid tribute to the victims of what the government described as “a national tragedy”. .
At Rapsani, a small station near the crash site in the center of the country, parents of students placed red and white carnations and lit candles on the tracks.
Youngsters from a local school carried the placard. “It’s not an accident. It’s not bad timing. It’s profit over human life.”
Already on Friday, in Athens, angry protesters chanted “murderers” in front of the headquarters of the Hellenic Rail Railway Company in the capital, and wrote the word in red letters on the facade of the building.
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