TEMPI: One year since the tragedy - Kyprianos from Avgorou is among the victims

Among the victims of the tragedy are the two Cypriot students Kyprianos Papaioannou from Avgorou and Anastasia Adamidou from Paphos

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One year is completed today, February 28, 2024, since the train accident in Tempe, which took 57 lives and left behind 57 families searching for answers and tormented by a big why. Among the victims of the tragedy are the two Cypriot students Kyprianos Papaioannou from Avgorou and Anastasia Adamidou from Paphos.

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The calendar reads 28.02.2023, time 23:21. A few minutes later the world will be talking about the deadliest train accident ever recorded in Greece and the tragedy of Tempe.

The passenger train Intercity 62, carrying more than 350 passengers and running the Athens-Thessaloniki route, collided head-on with commercial train 63503 running the Thessaloniki-Larissa route.

Two trains, a passenger train and a commercial one, collide in Evangelismos because the two trains were traveling for several kilometers on the same line!

Result; 57 people dead, mostly young children, students.

No matter how many times you hear or say or write what happened that fateful day, the same knot will rise in your throat.

The fierce collision, derailment and subsequent train set ablaze claimed the lives of 57 people, including the two train drivers. At least 85 were injured.

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The tragedy shocked not only Greece but also the world. It became first news in the world's biggest news agencies.

The collision of the two trains was the result of lapses in key safety areas on the railway.

The crime of Tempe demonstrated in the most tragic way the problems and dangers inherent in a medium which is considered the safest for long distance travel.

The two trains collided shortly after 23:20, with the first information referring to a train derailment, without it being clear if there are any dead or injured.

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"Ladies and gentlemen, good evening, we are interrupting the normal flow of our program as an alarm has been given to the authorities about a serious incident as an Intercity train collided with a commercial train resulting in three carriages derailing" will say the presenters of the first emergency bulletins that interrupted the flow of their program. No one would even dare to imagine what would follow.

It was immediately realized that the incident was much more serious, with police, ambulance and fire engines rushing to the scene.

Those who arrived first could see the fire burning from afar, with the EKAV picking up the injured in order to transport them to the hospitals of Larissa, Katerinis, Thessaloniki and Kozani.

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The collision derailed most of the carriages of the passenger train, and at the time of the collision, there was an instant explosion and fire, which consumed the two front carriages of the passenger train.

Explosions, screams and shouts ensue.

The first wagons are engulfed in flames. Some manage to get off the derailed wires, some don't. The moments are tragic and the testimonies are shocking.

"I got up quickly because I was burning from the sheets. The atmosphere was stifling and the windows were broken. Another kid and I got out and took a breather, and I started to help others inside the train. Maybe 50 people were inside," pointed out the young student who survived the tragic Tempe crash.

"I was talking on the cell phone for them to come and pick me up. I had just come back from the canteen and sat down, then the impact happened. All the lights were turned off, the only light there was from the sparks and fires. Some used the flashlight of their mobile phones to have light. We realized how we were turned upside down."

The first call was made to 112 where they reported that the train had been diverted. After the first few minutes, the calls to 112 and EKAV were continuous and they were all now talking about a derailment.

The two hospitals, Larissa General and University Hospitals are put on alert. The first ambulances to arrive are with injured people with serious injuries and others with lighter ones.

It doesn't take long for the first dead person to be announced. And from that moment the ambulances picked up dead, and more dead... National tragedy.

The rescuers speak of temperatures over 1300 degrees inside the wagons that were on fire the night before.

This is followed by the resignation of the then Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Kostas Ah. Karamanlis and the stationmaster of Larissa is arrested.

"I announce my resignation from the position of Minister of Infrastructure and Transport. It is what I feel it is my duty to do as a minimal sign of respect to the memory of the people who left so unjustly and taking responsibility for the eternal mistakes of the Greek state and the political system" he states, among other things, in his announcement.

Giorgos Gerapetritis, who took over as Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, after the resignation of Kostas Ah. Karamanli, at the handover ceremony, said: "I apologize to everyone."

All bodies are identified by the DNA method. The identification of some victims was extremely difficult due to the high temperatures that developed during the fire inside the first carriage.

People hold out hope of finding their loved ones, but as the hours pass, hopes fade.

At least 85 people were injured, 25 of them seriously. Of the injured, 66 were treated in hospitals in Larissa and Thessaloniki, while 6 were treated in intensive care units.

At the scene of the collision, 17 vehicles and 150 firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire, while rescue efforts were made with approximately 40 ambulances and more than 30 police officers.

Crane trucks were even used to pull out the wagons and extricate people. Of the surviving passengers, 250 were taken to Thessaloniki.

The next morning, Kyriakos Mitsotakis together with the then government representative, Yannis Oikonomou, arrived in Tempi to see what happened.

"What we are experiencing today as a country is very difficult. We are talking about an unspeakable tragedy. Our thoughts today are first and foremost with the victims' relatives. Our duty is to treat the wounded and from there to identify the bodies. From there, one thing I can guarantee: we will find out the causes of this tragedy and we will do everything in our power to prevent something like this from ever happening again."

Investigations at the site are completed within a few days, the area is asphalted (!) and the trains are moved to the "Koulouri" location.

In Greece, three days of national mourning were declared, from March 1 to March 3, 2023.

The funerals of the people who lost their lives take place during the weekend and on Monday. Grief, unspeakable pain and unanswered questions.

Since the night of the tragedy and for about a month, there have been many gatherings in many cities of the country, with young and old becoming a voice for the 57 lost souls.

Gathering at the Municipal Theater of Piraeus and march through the streets of Piraeus for the deadly train accident in Tempi by the student association of the University of Piraeus and schools of Piraeus

On the same day, the judicial investigation begins, which continues without any results until today.

The parents and relatives of the victims, united as a fist, together try to bring the truth to light, speaking of a cover-up and responsibilities through years of mistakes.

What was it that finally didn't work that fateful night? Was there a way to avoid the two trains colliding? Or was there even some kind of safety net to prevent the loss of so many lives in the event of human error?

On March 11, the conclusion of the Commission of Inquiry
A year later, with three findings and an ongoing inquest, the wounds still bleed, a year later the 57 souls are seeking justice.

15 executives and employees of the OSE have already been prosecuted, while the station master of the shift and the administration inspector of the OSE have been remanded in custody.

The House inquiry into Tempe began on November 23 and concluded after 89 days on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

SYRIZA, PASOK-KINAL, New Left, KKE, Hellenic Solution and Spartans left the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee at the last meeting.

On March 8, the parties are expected to submit their findings, while on March 11, the Committee's findings will be submitted to the President of the Parliament.

21-year-old Gerasimos, the sole survivor of the first carriage, is still in a comatose state. His grandmother hopes that her grandson, who is an athlete, will succeed:

"The doctors are all trying to make him well. The child is heavy, the blow is not light (…) Now he is also rehabilitating, making continuous efforts. The poor thing is struggling. He was an athlete, you know, kids clean without abuse, trained from a young age. He is now in Boston. What should I think? We all pray. Pray to God that he will be well. His health condition has improved minimally, but we are optimistic that he has accepted the grafts. She doesn't understand many things, she still doesn't have contact with the environment" she describes and moves with her courage.

Maria Karystianou, the mother - symbol of the 19-year-old Martha who was killed in the train accident in Tempi, speaking in the European Parliament caused a prolonged applause.

“In your country would anyone dare to put a price on human life? They cost us as much as a train ticket. Our children did not want to die, they wanted to live, to realize their dreams. This was not their fate, nor was it a "sacrifice" as they were characterized. Human sacrifices don't happen in 2024. I would give anything not to be here talking to you."

Christos Konstantinidis, representative of the Association of Relatives of Tempo Accident Victims, lost his wife, Vassiliki in the fatal train: "We have not been able to mourn. These people guide us and we must be at the forefront of this process, so that the truth and justice can be seen."

Evi Tsapari got out alive from the fatal train but lives with survivor's remorse:

"I feel a lot of remorse about it. Because I lived. Because I can't understand what I had more than the children, the people who were killed... It's the survivor's remorse... One can say, I'm to blame, we were to blame...".

"Take me when you arrive" they said and wrote many letters to their children that night but they never took them back.

It was probably the first and certainly the last time they didn't get angry with them…

Source: newsit.gr