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TEMPE, Greece, March 1, (Agencies): Rescuers searched Wednesday through the burned-out wreckage of two trains that slammed into each other in northern Greece, killing at least 36 people and crumpling several carriages into twisted steel knots. Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned, saying he felt it was his “duty” to step down “as a basic indication of respect for the memory of the people who died so unfairly.” In Kuwait, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent on Wednesday a cable to Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, expressing his sincere condolences over the victims of the multiple train collision in Larissa City.
His Highness the Amir expressed condolences to the victims’ families, wishing speedy recovery for those injured. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also sent a cable to Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, expressing his sincere condolences over the victims of the multiple train collision in Larissa City. His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah sent a similar cable.
The cause of the crash near the Vale of Tempe, a river valley about 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens, was not immediately clear, but the stationmaster in the nearby city of Larissa was arrested Wednesday.
The police did not release his name. Another two people have been detained for questioning. It’s unclear at what speed the passenger train and the freight train were travelling when they ran into each other just before midnight Tuesday, but survivors said the impact threw several passengers through the windows of train cars. State broadcaster ERT quoted rescuers saying they found some victims’ bodies 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) from the impact site.
A teenage survivor who did not give his name to reporters said that just before the crash he felt sudden braking and saw sparks – and then there was a sudden stop. “Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were smashed,” he said, visibly shaken. He used a bag to break the window of his car, the fourth, and escape. Stefanos Gogakos, who was in a rear carriage, said the crash felt like an explosion, and he could see flames at the front of the train. “The glass in the windows shattered and fell on top of us,” he told ERT. “My head hit the roof of the carriage with the jolt. Some people started to climb out through the windows because there was smoke in the carriage. The doors were closed but in a few minutes train staff opened them and we got out.”