Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Greece on Wednesday and workers went on strike in the biggest show of public anger yet over the country’s deadliest train disaster that killed 57 people last week.
The public outcry over the condition of the rail network has intensified following the accident on February 28. Workers on strike contend that the railway’s decline, inadequate funding, and insufficient staffing are all consequences of Greece’s ten-year financial crisis.
In the largest street protests the government has faced since being elected in 2019, police estimated more than 60,000 people, among them transport workers, students and teachers, took part in demonstrations in cities across Greece.
More than 40,000 people marched to parliament in central Athens and also in the city of Thessaloniki where a group of protesters chanting “Murderers!” and “We are all in the same carriage”, hurled stones at a government building.
A clash between riot police and a group of protesters resulted in a brief outbreak of violence, with tear gas being fired at the crowd. Protestors hurled petrol bombs in front of parliament and setting a van and garbage bins ablaze.
The conservative government, which had been planning to call an election in the coming weeks, promised on Wednesday to fix the ailing rail system.
Transport Minister George Gerapetritis told a news conference he understood the anger the accident had caused.
“No train will set off again, if we have not secured safety at the maximum possible level,” he said after announcing a suspension of the service while it reviews safety.
Photo Credit: WSWS