When my four-year-old labrador noticed Dimitra Kapetaniou, she pulled me over to her and jumped up on her for a big hug. That was the last time I saw her. She earned a degree in early childhood education last June and resided across the street with her parents and dog, Freddie.
She was one of 57 victims who have been officially identified in Greece’s worst train accident ever, and like many of them, she was a student.
Greece has been shaken by this catastrophe. A national outpouring of sorrow and anger, primarily aimed at the nation’s ruling classes, has been sparked by the tragic loss of so many young lives. The Greeks feel deceived once again.
Dimitra was inside one of the front carriages of the passenger train transporting about 350 people from Athens to Thessaloniki when she boarded it in the coastal city of Volos after completing her postgraduate class.
A short while later, the train was unintentionally redirected onto the same track as the approaching goods train. In a head-on collision, the two trains met at a speed of about 160 km/h. By comparing Dimitra’s DNA to Christina, her mother, it was determined that she had passed away.
It’s possible that human error was the primary cause of this catastrophe. However, it could have been avoided if Greece had not so flagrantly disregarded a vital component of its essential infrastructure. Years of underinvestment and neglect have negatively impacted the rail system, and Greece’s protracted debt problem is only one factor.
In my Thessaloniki neighborhood, Dimitra was well-liked. She was a tall, thin young lady with long, curly hair, and her grin was contagious. My dog, Roman, had spent countless days at her home, frequently on her bed, while she was studying because she had worked as a dog sitter.
She was one of three individuals who died in the crash just from this small neighborhood. A fourth casualty suffered severe injuries but lived.
A 23-year-old theology student named Kelly Porfyridou and her 23-year-old partner Nikitas Karatheodorou both passed away. He was a fireman whose colleagues said was on his way to visit his folks in Thessaloniki. A few days ago, their combined funeral was held in my neighborhood.
The discussion always goes to the train wreck when I take my dog for a walk, go to the bakery, the butcher, or the kiosk, and it frequently ends in tears. Nobody can comprehend this catastrophe, and you can feel the anger directed at the Greek political system and years of political failures.
The first carriage, which exploded directly after the collision with temperatures inside reaching 1,300C, belonged to me because I intended to ride this train myself. However, I abruptly altered my course and took a plane back home.
The biggest demonstrations this government has encountered since taking office in July 2019 have taken place across Greece.
Tens of thousands of individuals have been spotted in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Grief and rage unify Greeks from Evros in the north to Crete in the south.