Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Athens and cities across Greece to demand accountability following the deaths of 57 people last week in the country’s worst train disaster.
Labour unions and student associations organised the demonstrations on Wednesday, while strikes halted ferries to the islands and public transportation services in Athens, where at least 30,000 people took to the streets.
Demonstrators in the capital waved signs reading “it’s not an accident, it’s a crime” and “it could have been any of us on that train”.
More than 20,000 joined rallies in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, where clashes broke out when several dozen youths challenged a police cordon. Twelve students from the city’s university were among the dead in last week’s head-on crash between two trains.
Police fired tear gas in the southern city of Patras, where a municipal band earlier played music from a funeral march while leading the demonstration.
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In the central city of Larissa, near the scene of the train collision, students holding black balloons chanted “No to profits over our lives!”
The February 28 crash has stirred public outrage over the crumbling state of the Greek rail network, and striking workers say years of neglect, underinvestment and understaffing – a legacy of Greece’s decade-long debt crisis – are to blame.
Many of the estimated 350 people on board an intercity passenger train that collided head-on with a freight train while travelling on the same track were university students heading to the northern city of Thessaloniki from Athens after a long public holiday weekend.