March 22, 2023

1000’s of individuals have rallied in central Athens to protest over Greece’s deadliest rail catastrophe, which killed dozens of individuals final month.

The demonstrators expressed anger over security deficiencies in Greece’s railway community and demanded punishment for these chargeable for the head-on collision between a passenger prepare and a freight prepare that killed 57 individuals on February 28. Police mentioned that greater than 8,000 individuals in Athens gathered exterior Parliament to protest on Sunday.

Protesters flooded Athens’ Syntagma Sq., waving banners that learn “We cannot neglect, we cannot forgive” and “We’ll change into the voice of all of the useless”.

“It was anger and rage that introduced me right here,” Markella, a 65-year-old Athens protester who gave just one title, informed the AFP information company.

One other demonstrator, 26-year-old Alexandros, added: “We’re getting determined. You do not know what to say, what to do – all you are able to do is be part of the protest.

The protesters later marched to the workplaces of privatized prepare operator Hellenic Practice. The corporate, which has been owned by Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane since 2017, just isn’t chargeable for the upkeep of the railway community. State-owned Hellenic Railways is in command of maintenance.

Reporting from Athens, Al Jazeera’s John Psaropoulos mentioned “the message on the road at the moment … was certainly one of skepticism and confrontation in direction of the federal government”.

Authorities shut down 4 metro stations on two traces operating by central Athens due to the protest.

Protesters hold banners during a demonstration in front of the parliament building, following the fatal collision of two trains, in Athens, Greece, March 12, 2023. The banners read "They were students.  The wagon sank with the students' blood",  Reuters/Louisa Vradi
Protesters maintain banners in Athens, Greece studying: ‘They had been college students. The wagon sank with the scholars’ blood. [Louiza Vradi/Reuters]

The rally was organized by civil servants, a pro-communist union and college college students.

In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest metropolis, about 5,000 individuals demonstrated.

Sunday’s rallies, which handed off with out severe incident, weren’t as well-attended as comparable occasions earlier within the week, when greater than 30,000 had turned out in Athens and greater than 20,000 in Thessaloniki.

A memorial service was performed for 12 college students of the Aristotle College of Thessaloniki, Greece’s largest college, who had been killed within the prepare crash.

A stationmaster accused of inserting the trains on the identical observe has been charged with negligent murder and different offences, and the nation’s transportation minister and senior railway officers resigned the day after the crash.

Private and non-private sector workers are anticipated to stroll out once more on Thursday.

‘Facetious’ reactions

Revelations of significant security gaps on Greece’s busiest rail line have put the centre-right authorities of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the defensive. He has pledged the federal government’s full cooperation with a judicial inquiry into the crash.

Mitsotakis, who’s combating to be re-elected later this 12 months, has confronted calls from some protesters to stop.

He has come beneath hearth for initially pointing to “human error” for the accident, and blaming the stationmaster on obligation on the time, who allegedly routed the trains onto the identical stretch of observe accidentally.

However railway unions had lengthy been warning about issues on the creaking, understaffed prepare community.

Al Jazeera’s Psaropoulos mentioned the federal government “has been bending over backwards to appease public opinion.

“Simply two days in the past, the federal government introduced that it could pay for nationwide pensions equal to roughly $1,800 per household for every of these 57 individuals killed,” he mentioned.

“The federal government is attempting to reassure those that by the tip of the month when railways begin working once more – at the least that’s the authorities plan – all precautions could have been taken to have full staffing and correctly skilled employees on platforms and on trains.

“By the tip of the summer time, the prime minister has promised he will have all these automated security techniques that did not work on the night time of February 28, put in all through the system – computerized signalling, computerized breaking and telemetry exhibiting controllers the place trains are and headed always.”

Elections in Greece are due later this spring, and opinion polls launched over the previous week have proven the ruling conservatives’ lead over the left-wing opposition shrink nearly by half in contrast with polls revealed earlier than the crash.

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