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General News

Sadness and Anger in the Greek-American Community over the Deadly Train Crash

NEW YORK – Greeks in the New York area spoke with The National Herald to express their deep sadness and condolences following the deadly train collision, but also their anger over the troubling issues revealed in the midst of the unprecedented tragedy in Tempi.

With images from the scene of the horrific accident broadcast from the first moment and the tragic stories of the young people who perished and the families they left behind upsetting to even the most detached observer, Greek-Americans are still in shock over the events of the last few days.

“First of all, let me emphasize that this is an unspeakable tragedy. Courage and strength to the relatives of the victims and speedy recovery to the injured,” said Dr. Dimitrios A. Flevas, an Orthopedic Surgeon based in New York, noting that answers must be given “without petty partisan expediencies.”

“However, even if it appears prima facie to be due to human error, the relevant authorities should investigate questions such as: were there safeguards through installed automatic systems that are activated in the event of human error? If there were, were they in operation? Were there alternative security protocols to avoid this kind of tragic mistake? A head-on collision between two trains on the same line in 2023 seems unthinkable,” Dr. Flevas said.

Dr. Dimitrios A. Flevas. (Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Dimitrios Flevas)

He continued: “And yet dozens of families mourn their dead, and with them an entire country, and all together we wonder: Why? An answer must be given without petty partisan expediencies to all those who mourn as well as to the dozens of injured.”

Joanna Kartsakalis from New Jersey, who is a first-generation Greek-American, points out the tragedy of the incident and the loss of dozens of young people: “I feel sorry for the victims and their families. I see people on social media playing the blame game – some pointing out that it’s the government’s fault. I’m not sure if this is true or false, but it’s not going to bring the dead back.”

Joanna Kartsakalis. (Photo: Courtesy of Joanna Kartsakalis)

She added: “Still, I hope they find the exact cause and prevent future accidents. I try to find stories that offer hope and optimism, like the passengers who sacrificed themselves for others. It hurts to constantly see the images from the accident.”

On a more pointed note, Hara Vamvouri from Astoria pointed out that the train accident is the result of a series of causes that go beyond human error: “We hear it’s human error. Of course there will be human errors but it is 2023 and we have the tools and technology to prevent and correct these errors. But let’s be honest: This is the result of a systematic corruption and a rigid bureaucracy, which has existed like a cancer for decades and decades.”

Hara Vamvouri. (Photo: Courtesy of Hara Vamvouri)

“There are accusations on the right and on the left, but every party that ruled (PASOK, ND, SYRIZA) has responsibilities. So the Minister of Transport resigned. I believe that the Minister of Development, Adonis Georgiadis, should have also resigned,” she noted, concluding that “experts and workers have been warning for years. Either they fix it or people stop using the railways.”

The well-known teacher Demetra Varsami was on the same wavelength, expressing the opinion that the accident came as a result of a series of omissions and incorrect actions, characterizing it as a “crime.”

Demetra Varsami. (Photo: Courtesy of Demetra Varsami)

“I am saddened and outraged by the deadly train collision in Tempi,” she told TNH. “The causes of the tragedy are obvious to me: lack of electronic systems, the fact that transport safety protocols were not followed, the appointments to key positions, such as that of the station master, who were not the wisest. All of this resulted not in an accident, mishap, or bad moment… but in a crime.”

“In this case, history repeats itself as a tragedy,” Ms. Varsami concluded.

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