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Volunteers went to the AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki to donate blood for those injured in the crash at Tempi.
(Photo courtesy of Dimitris Pavlides)
ATHENS – In the aftermath of the fatal train wreck at Tempi – in northern Greece – as mothers mourn their children, friends and relatives search for their missing loved ones, and an entire nation is plunged into national mourning, Greeks spoke to The National Herald about the grief, fear, despair, and disappointment that the news of the tragic incident created.
“I have been crying for two days, even though I did not chance to have one of my own inside [the train]. I shudder over every moment in all those years that I took that train and went up to Thessaloniki. And thinking that now I know the reasons for every time there were delays, I panic,” Artemis Kyriakopoulou confessed to The National Herald. Kyriakopoulou expressed her frustration and anger at the decrepitude of the system that she believes is responsible and, visibly agitated, she concluded: “I think about what I did [with my life]. Why did I come back to Greece from abroad? And it hurts me a lot because I want to live in this country that I love so much, but I can’t even imagine making my future here because it will be a lifetime of uncertainty.”
Natassa Daskalogianni, who was still in a state of shock, said in turn, “I’m in denial,” explaining that it is impossible for her to comprehend how with all the technology available, such accidents happen.
At the same time, where in many instances there is no place for words, a gesture of solidarity and support sends the loudest message. “In Greece, where 2023 is still moving in the prevailing direction of ‘let’s go and whatever happens, happens’ solidarity and consciousness of other people is the only way that can lead us out of the absolute darkness of death. Let us turn our justified anger into active participation and actions, which will force those in charge to rise to the occasion, to technological developments, to our obvious needs,” said Dimitris Pavlidis, one of the hundreds of citizens who rushed to donate blood for those injured in the fatal crash.
“What I feel is pain, sadness, and anguish for these young children who were so unjustly lost,” said Aphrodite Makri, a mother of two. She added, “unfortunately in Greece, we will never change. After such tragedies, I am always tired of hearing the same old stories until the storm passes and they are forgotten.”
“It may sound trite now with everything that has been running around on social media, but the sentiment ‘let’s go and whatever happens, happens’ should be saved for other situations, for love, for coffee with friends, for those decisions that are part of little dreams that fill you with hope, not for decisions that endanger human lives,” said the young student, Maria Tserrikou, expressing her sympathy to the families of the victims. In fact, as she told The National Herald, on that day she was traveling herself – by another means of transportation of course – and there were many people who, because of the Carnival season and her young age, called her to be sure she arrived okay.
Elpiniki Ziropoulou also expressed her sadness and disappointment for all those people who, as she said, “so unjustly had the thread of their lives cut and saw – or maybe not – ‘the end coming’.” “How terrified they must have been! I wonder what those who had time to understand what happened or was about to happen felt. So many families, so many friends of the victims, having to live after this, having lost their own people and not being able to mourn them in a proper way, as they were lost in the ashes. On the other hand, so many people who experienced something so tragic, how can they go on, having seen such images, having experienced something so horrible?” Ziropoulou asked.
Panagiotis Halvantzis, 27-years-old, originally from Lamia, told The National Herald, “using the train myself, which I even trusted exclusively for my travels, I could never imagine that our safety and our lives were in the hands of only one person, without safeguards and further protection measures.” He explained that, in his view, the death of so many people, in whose place anyone could have been, was not only due to momentary human error, but mainly to the chronic pathologies of the system. But he concluded, “our thoughts, are certainly with the families of the victims.”
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