Emergency crews plowed through the wrecked wreckage of a passenger train on Thursday, advancing «inch by inch» as they searched for the dead in a deadly head-on collision in northern Greece that killed at least 46 people.

The passenger train and a freight train collided Tuesday night, crushing the carriages into twisted knots of steel and forcing people to break windows to escape. It was the deadliest accident in the country’s history and more than 50 people remained hospitalized, the majority in the central Greek city of Larissa. Six of them were in intensive care.

Fire Service spokesman Yiannis Artopios said the grim recovery effort was progressing «inch by inch».

“We can see that there are more (bodies) of people there. Unfortunately they are in very bad shape from the crash,» Artopios told state television.

The cause of the accident is still unclear. A station manager arrested after the collision was charged Wednesday with multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter and negligently causing grievous bodily harm, as a judicial investigation seeks to establish why the two trains were traveling in opposite directions on the same track.

A train carrying hundreds of passengers collided with an oncoming freight train in northern Greece, killing and injuring dozens of passengers.
Temperatures in one of the crashed cars reached 2,370 degrees after it caught fireVaggelis Kousioras / AP

Meanwhile, railway workers’ associations called strikes, paralyzing national rail services and the metro in Athens. They are protesting working conditions and what they described as a dangerous failure to modernize the Greek rail system due to a lack of public investment during the deep financial crisis that spanned most of the previous decade and brought Greece to the brink of collapse. bankruptcy.

Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned after the accident and his replacement took it upon himself to set up an independent inquiry to investigate the causes of the accident.

«Responsibility will be assigned,» Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address Wednesday night after visiting the crash site.

“We will work so that the words ‘never again’… do not remain an empty promise. That I promise you.

Strike supporters plan to protest in central Athens later on Thursday.

More than 300 people were on board the passenger train, many of them students returning from a holiday weekend and the annual Carnival celebrations in Greece.

Andreas Alikaniotis, a 20-year-old survivor of the crash, described how he and his companions escaped from a torn-up train carriage as the fire approached, breaking windows and dumping luggage to the ground to use as a makeshift landing platform.

“It was a steep fall, into a ditch,” Alikaniotis, who sustained a knee injury, told reporters from his hospital bed in Larissa.

«The lights went out. And the light had come from the approaching fire and the flying sparks. The smoke was stifling inside the carriage but also outside,» Alikaniotis said.

«I managed to stay calm and was one of the few who was not seriously injured,» he said. «My friends and I help people out.»