A passenger train carrying hundreds of people collided at high speed with an oncoming freight train in a fiery wreck in northern Greece, killing 36 and injuring at least 85.
Multiple train cars derailed and at least three burst into flames after the collision near the town of Tempe just before midnight on Tuesday.
Rescue workers illuminated the scene with floodlights before dawn on Wednesday as they searched frantically through the twisted, smoking wreckage for survivors who said several passengers were thrown through the windows after the impact.
They said others fought to free themselves after the passenger train buckled, slamming into a field next to the tracks near a gorge about 380km (235 miles) north of Athens where major highway and rail tunnels are located.
“There were many big pieces of steel,” said Vassilis Polyzos, a resident who was one of the first on the scene. “Both trains were completely destroyed.”
He said dazed and disoriented people were escaping the train’s rear cars as he arrived.
“People, naturally, were scared, very scared,” he said. “They were looking around and searching. They didn’t know where they were.”
The trains crashed just before the Vale of Tempe, a gorge that separates the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia.
Rescuers wearing headlamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled metal from the cars to search for trapped people.
Others scoured the field with flashlights and checked underneath the wreckage. Several of the dead are believed to have been found in the restaurant area near the front of the passenger train.
Hospital officials in the nearby city of Larissa said at least 25 of those hurt had serious injuries.