Greece, Larissa The official death toll from this week’s rail disaster in Greece remains at 57, according to authorities’ checks of all the human remains recovered so far from the scene of the accident.
A passenger train collided with a freight carrier just before midnight on Tuesday in Tempe, which is 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens, and recovery teams have spent the past three days searching the wreckage.
Estimating fatalities has been made more difficult by the intensity of the head-on collision and the subsequent fire. To determine the total, authorities are using tissue samples to match with body parts of victims who were dismembered or burned.
After victims were identified using next-of-kin DNA samples, their bodies were being returned to their families in closed caskets.
The families of those still missing gathered outside a hospital in Larissa, the country’s central city, to hear any updates. Mirella Ruci was one of them; her son Denis, who is 22, had been missing for a while.
Since I don’t have any concrete details, I can’t say whether or not my son is on any official lists. Ruci, whose voice shook as she tried to speak, pleaded with anyone who saw him in rail car 5, seat 22 to get in touch.
Officials from the Ministry of Health said that due to the state of many of the bodies, identifications would be made by comparing DNA samples from family members.
The two-stage, complex, round-the-clock identification process is managed by teams of police and civilian forensics experts: DNA samples from family members of missing passengers are being used to match body parts to victims and confirm their identities.
On the third day of national mourning, flags at the ancient Acropolis, parliament, and other Athens public buildings remained at half-staff while a strike shut down national rail services for a second day.
Reports that the rail network lacked adequate safeguards to reduce the impact of human error fueled the firestorm of anger against authorities in the wake of the tragedy. A large group of Larissa schoolchildren gathered in a central square not far from the hospital and chanted, “You never arrived, we will avenge you!”
In the Greek capital of Athens, hundreds of students were blocking traffic in the city center with a demonstration called “Murderers!” while holding white balloons in memory of the victims.
Friday morning, Larissa police removed evidence from a rail coordination office as part of an ongoing investigation.
The station manager of the facility, a 59-year-old man charged with multiple counts of negligent manslaughter, is scheduled to appear before a public prosecutor this coming Saturday to give testimony in his case.
Attorney Stelios Sourlas, who represents a 23-year-old victim of the collision, claims that the station manager is not solely to blame.
Sourlas explained that while “the station manager may have the principal responsibility,” the responsibility was shared with other parties such as rail operators and public officials.
Despite improvements in rail service to provide faster trains in recent years, rail unions say the network has been poorly maintained.
National elections in Greece were expected to be called by the current center-right government on Friday, but this announcement and the associated date are now likely to be postponed.
The derailed passenger train was operating along Greece’s busiest route, which connects the country’s capital with the country’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki.
On Friday, the names of two of the victims, Cypriot students Anastasia Adamidou and Kyprianos Papaioannou, were released. The funerals and repatriation of the bodies will be paid for by the state, according to President Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus.