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15 injured in train collision in Greece

A passenger train with hundreds of people on board collided with a cargo train in central Greece, injuring 14, say authorities.
By HT Correspondent | AP, Athens
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2008 12:16 PM IST

A passenger train with hundreds of people on board collided with a cargo train in central Greece early on Monday, injuring 15 people, most of them lightly, authorities said.

About 500 passengers were on board the train travelling from the northern city of Thessaloniki to the capital, Athens, when it crashed with carriages that had become detached from a cargo train heading in the opposite direction, said the Greek Railway Organisation, or OSE.

The fire department said its rescue crews spent about three hours trying to free the train driver from the wreckage.

The main hospital in the central city of Lamia said it had received 15 injured people, most of them lightly hurt.

The crash occurred at 0045 GMT, OSE said.

"Most people were asleep," one woman passenger told local television outside the hospital in Lamia. "Bags started falling, and we tried to calm people."

The woman, who did not give her name, said some passengers panicked, fearing that the carriages were about to topple over. "I don't think there were any terrible injuries, but the jolt in the night was enough," she said.

The train, which began its journey in Dikaia and Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece, collided with some of the cargo train's carriages that had been left on the line about 200 kilometres north of Athens, OSE said. It was unclear how the carriages became disconnected from the rest of the cargo train, which had been travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki.

Train crashes are relatively rare in Greece. But two accidents occurred in March. In the first, 23 people were injured when an InterCity passenger train derailed in central Greece, while eight days later a a truck crashed into a passenger and cargo train in southern Greece, killing the truck driver and injuring two people.

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