March 30, 2023

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Train disaster: Stalled Greece takes to the streets

Massive strikes and rallies across Greece: Thousands of people are set to show their anger again on Wednesday, a week after the train disaster that killed 57 people and sparked a wave of anger.

Greece must come to a near standstill with calls for a work stoppage in much of the public and private sectors.

No sea link will be provided between the mainland and the islands, and trains will remain at the station for the eighth consecutive day.

Public service workers such as primary school teachers, doctors and bus and metro drivers have also been called for a 24-hour strike.

More protests are expected across the country, including two in the capital.

In Athens, the country’s second city, and Thessaloniki, violent clashes erupted between police and demonstrators on Sunday on the sidelines of a 12,000-strong rally.

During the week-long processions, chants of “Call me when you come” have been carried, referring to the mother’s message to the child who died in the accident.

Many of the victims were youths and students. In recent days, scenes of devastated parents burying their children, often telecast live by television channels, have helped make the country a little more sad.

– “National Tragedy” –

A week after an Athens-Thessaloniki train with about 350 passengers and a freight car collided, anger has not abated.

Without triggering any warning, the two trains traveled several kilometers on the same track and collided head-on at Tempe, near the city of Larissa, 350 km to the north, at 11:30 pm (21:30 GMT) on February 28. North of the capital.

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Since what officials have described as a “national tragedy,” Greeks have held their leaders to account, with conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the forefront.

Because on the day after the conflict, serious deficiencies in the security system, damage to the railway network and government assets were pointed out.

The head of government, who faces a general election in the spring, promised hours after the disaster that it was “a tragic human error”.

However, the railway unions, in particular, recalled with anger that they had sounded the alarm about serious technical problems on the line long before the tragedy, only to be heeded.

The station master of Larissa, who admitted responsibility for the accident, was taken into custody.

But some accuse officials of wanting to blame someone with so little experience.

“It’s easy to blame the station master,” protested primary school teacher Mariana Kronopoulou during Sunday’s demonstration.

– Planning Steps in Public Services –

“We are very angry with this government because we also see a state where the public sector is left,” he said.

Out of remorse, the prime minister apologized to the families of the victims on Sunday, which many considered too late.

He also asked for help from the European Union, which is due to send experts from the European Agency for Railways (ERA) to Athens this week.

There is also anger at railway company Hellenic Rail.

Chanting “murderers”, demonstrators expressed their anger in front of the company’s headquarters on Friday and scrawled the word on the building in Athens.

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Hellenic Rail, the operator responsible for passenger and freight transport, responded to the allegations by recalling that responsibility for maintaining the network fell to the Greek public company OSE.

Many Greeks are expressing their bitterness at a decline in public services after austerity measures imposed by Greece’s creditors to pull the country out of recession.

Public health, education and many other sectors have been severely affected.