NEWS

Two dead, 18 injured in Serres railway accident

Two people were killed near the city of Serres, northern Greece, yesterday and 18 were injured when a train smashed into a vehicle attempting to traverse an unauthorized crossing in the third fatal train accident this month. One of the dead was a woman, one of the 101 passengers on the intercity train traveling from Piraeus to Alexandroupolis. The second victim was the 42-year-old man driving the small truck which got stuck in mud on the railway track. Police said Nikos Tsountourakis tried to illegally cross the tracks at the spot to avoid a 500-meter detour to the nearest marked crossing. He was in the truck with his wife. However, there was speculation that the couple tried to cross at the location after getting lost in the rural area’s farmland. Tsountourakis’s wife jumped out of the truck moments before the collision. «I told him to get out of the car, and he wouldn’t listen,» said the woman, whose name was not released. Earlier this month, three people were killed in two separate train accidents, also in northern Greece. Both of those accidents took place at level crossings with barriers. Of the 18 people hurt in yesterday’s crash, one sustained serious injuries. «It is out of sheer luck that we are not mourning more victims,» said recently appointed Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Kalatzis, who visited the scene of the accident. Television footage showed Tsountourakis’s truck transformed into a twisted mass of metal. All five of the train’s carriages were derailed. A rescue operation involving a helicopter, ambulances and fire trucks was launched, but muddy conditions made access to the area difficult. Rail services between the cities of Serres and Drama were interrupted and the train passengers were transferred to buses.