LARISSA: Relatives of those killed in Greece’s worst-ever train accident stood in silence at the Larissa General Hospital amphitheater, normally used for doctors’ seminars.
As they listened to the deputy health minister tell them how they were to give DNA samples that would be used to match the DNA of body parts recovered from the crash scene, they did not speak, and barely registered facial expressions. They walked silently in small groups as their names were called.
Most were couples in their 40s and 50s perhaps the parents of the many registered missing children.
One woman held her head in her hands and stared blankly ahead.
That so many of the 57 confirmed dead and 56 missing in the February 28 disaster were young has touched a nerve with Greeks.
Some victims had been returning to their universities after a long weekend celebrating Greek Orthodox lent.
Twin sisters Thomi and Chrysa Plakia, 20, and their first cousin, 19-year-old Anastasia Plakia, were returning to their university studies in Thessaloniki when their train, the InterCity 62, slammed into an oncoming freight train at an estimated combined speed of 280km/h. All three women were killed.
Their hometown of Kastraki was steeped in mourning, said restauranteur Eleftheria Polyzou.
“We pass each other on the street. Our eyes meet, and nobody knows what to say,” she said.
Sorrow has spilled over into rage in this society, where nuclear family bonds are nothing short of sacred.
The Larissa stationmaster has confessed to sending train 62 north on the southbound track, but many Greeks do not believe he was the only one to blame.
“It’s not just the stationmaster, it’s not just his human error of not switching the tracks, it’s everything that happened for 20 years before that,” said Andreas Samartzis, a Larissa restauranteur.
“When you’re a father, you feel everything twice as intensely as others. I don’t know what I would do if my children had been involved.” (Int’l Monitoring Desk)