Trains in Greece: Greek PM apologizes to train crash victims amid new protests | International

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Groups of protesters have launched this Sunday in Athens Molotov cocktails during a protest before the Parliament of Greece to demand responsibilities from the Hellenic Government for the death of 57 people after the railway accident last Tuesday night, an incident before which the Executive Kyriakos Mitsotakis's conservative has apologized this morning, after more than four days attributing responsibility to human error. “As prime minister, I owe it to everyone, but especially to the relatives of the victims [pedirles] sorry”, the leader wrote in a message to the nation published on the internet.

During the protest, in which local media report that some 10,000 people have participated, some protesters have set fire to garbage containers and have launched incendiary devices. Police have used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse a group of militants from a minority leftist party who wanted to head towards the offices of Hellenic Train, the company that operates Greece's railways.

"Your policies cost lives" could be read on one of the banners displayed by the protesters, while another accused the government of being "murderous". This Sunday was the fifth day of demonstrations and tension in the streets of Greece after the accident in which two trains collided head-on —one for passengers and the other for goods— that were going along the same track, near the city of Laughter. The accident was the worst rail catastrophe in the history of Greece and the most serious in Europe since 2013.

"We feel immense rage," Michalis Hasiotis, president of a union of accountants, who joined the procession, told France Presse (AFP). "The interest in profits, the lack of measures for the protection of passengers led to the worst railway tragedy in our country," he said. "Nothing works in this country, the hospitals are in agony, the schools close, the forests burn... Who are they making fun of?" Nikos Tsikalakis, head of a railway union, told the French agency.

Thousands of protesters in front of the Greek Parliament, this Sunday in Athens.ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS (REUTERS)

Mitsotakis has asked this Sunday "a great forgiveness" to all Greeks for the accident and has recognized the lack of security measures and automated control systems on the rail network. "We cannot, we do not want to and we must not hide behind human error", Mitsotakis expressed on his Facebook account, thus changing the discourse maintained until now, and which pointed to the Larisa station manager, who has been charged as solely responsible of the accident "In Greece, in 2023, it is not possible for two trains to run in the opposite direction on the same track and for nobody to notice," he stated in his message posted on the social network.

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The accident may have a high political cost for New Democracy, Mitsotakis's conservative party, ahead of general elections scheduled for next spring or early summer. Thousands of Greeks have been demonstrating for days to demand transport safety and denounce that there is a State responsibility for not having modernized a railway structure that lacks automated control systems to prevent the collision of two trains.

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