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Greek Prime Minister Assumes Personal Responsibility for Deadly Train Crash

© AP Photo / Vaggelis KousiorasПожарные и спасатели работают на месте столкновения поездов возле города Лариса, Греция, 1 марта 2023 года
Пожарные и спасатели работают на месте столкновения поездов возле города Лариса, Греция, 1 марта 2023 года - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.03.2023
ATHENS (Sputnik) - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday he was taking responsibility for the deadly train crash that claimed the lives of 57 people last week, and promised a transparent and thorough investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding the accident.
In his opening remarks at a cabinet meeting, Mitsotakis said everyone's thoughts were first and foremost with the families of the victims.
"I will repeat my public apologies on behalf of all those who have run the country for many years, but above all personally. Therefore, I take responsibility. And we cannot, we do not want, we must not hide behind a series of human mistakes," Mitsotakis said at a cabinet meeting.
The prime minister offered his condolences to the families of the victims. He also made a reference to his Sunday's post on social media, in which he pointed to technological backwardness as one of the possible causes.
"I repeat what I have already written: if the remote control installation had been completed, this accident would have been practically impossible. And technologies could help us prevent the unthinkable: for several kilometers, two trains were moving on the same track on a collision course," he said.
Mitsotakis added that the fact that a remote control system would now be installed in several months was not an excuse and "made [his] personal pain even greater," since the system should have been installed in advance. He also said there was no point in having a meaningless argument about who was to blame.
"I answer: we are all to blame, and let us courageously admit it. From governments and administrations to some corporations that prevented any evaluation of the personnel of our trains," he said.
The Greek leader said that those responsible should be brought to justice fast, but he also admitted that the catastrophe occurred under his watch.
"I cannot turn back time, but I can guarantee the Greeks two simple things. First, absolute, I repeat, absolute transparency of the investigation… And second, direct initiatives launched to improve the problematic situation on our railroads, in terms of technology and human resource management," the prime minister said.
Debris of trains lie on the rail lines after a collision in Tempe, about 376 kilometres (235 miles) north of Athens, near Larissa city, Greece, Wednesday, March 1, 2023. A passenger train carrying hundreds of people, including many university students returning home from holiday, collided at high speed with an oncoming freight train before midnight on Tuesday. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.03.2023
What's Known So Far in the Aftermath of Greece's Tragic Train Crash?
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke with Mitsotakis over the phone on Monday and pledged to provide technical support to modernize the Greek railroads and improve their safety. She said the Commission and the European Union Agency for Railways' (ERA) experts would travel to Greece to investigate the incident.
Greek media reported that despite the fact the upgrade to the signaling and remote control system on the Athens-Thessaloniki-Promachona railroad, where the accident occurred, was agreed in 2014, a series of thefts and acts of vandalism stopped the contract's implementation. The European Commission said it had provided 700 million euros ($744 million) to Greece since 2014 to improve the country's rail infrastructure.
On March 1, a passenger train collided with a freight train near the city of Larissa. The passenger train had switched to the freight train's lane before the accident, which brought them both on the same track and resulted in a head-on collision. The head of the Larissa station was arrested. According to reports, he admitted his guilt and said that he had mistakenly sent a passenger train along the wrong track.
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