March 2 (UPI) — The death toll in a head-on train collision in Greece reached 57 on Thursday, as railway and metro workers went on a 24-hour strike to demonstrate against the government for conditions they said led to the accident.
Rescue workers continued to go through the scene of Tuesday’s crash looking for bodies. The accident has led to the resignation of the transport minister and the arrest of the stationmaster.
Coroner Eleni Zaggelidou confirmed that 57 people have died.
Striking workers from the Hellenic Train services said the strike aims to call attention to the “disrespect that [successive] governments have shown toward the Greek railroads, which led to the tragic result in Tempe.”
Hellenic Train, which was once operated by the Greek government, was privatized at the height of Greece’s debt crisis. Protesters said that move, coupled with Greece’s austerity measures over the years and the country’s prolonged debt crisis made such an accident inevitable.
A Greek magistrate on Thursday ordered an immediate investigation into charges that a long stretch of rail leading to Athens International Airport does not have proper signals. The railway is used by millions each year.
“We are all devastated by this tragic incident,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said in a news conference.
“The loss and trauma this caused, the physical and mental trauma of survivors and the angst of this country is huge, and it’s difficult to manage, particularly now.”
Anger boiled over into the streets in some locations. Demonstrators threw rocks at rail company offices in Athens on Wednesday evening, with more protests breaking out in Thessaloniki.