Greek journalists strike over rail tragedy

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  • Journalists in Greece have staged a 24-hour walkout following last month's rail tragedy.
  • The strike is in support of the 'nationwide demand to assign responsibility for the (train) crime and take all measures' to prevent another such incident.
  • The railway crash claimed 57 lives.

Journalists in Greece on Wednesday staged a 24-hour walkout, part of two days of labour action this week over last month's rail tragedy that claimed 57 lives.

Journalists' union Poesy said the strike was in support of "the nationwide demand to assign responsibility for the (train) crime and take all measures" to prevent further loss of life.

The accident occurred shortly before midnight on 28 February when a passenger train crashed into a freight train in central Greece after both were mistakenly left running on the same track.

Most of the passengers were students returning from a holiday weekend.

Several people are still in hospital, and one passenger is still fighting for his life.

A general strike will be held Thursday over the tragedy, which exposed decades of safety failings in Greek railways and has put major pressure on the conservative government ahead of national elections.

READ | Greek train tragedy sheds light on chronic state failures

The stationmaster and three other railway officials have been charged, but public anger has focused on long-running mismanagement of the network and the country has been rocked by a series of sometimes violent mass protests.

On Sunday, about 12 000 demonstrators gathered outside parliament, while 5,000 took to the streets of the second city Thessaloniki, police said.

Greece's transport minister resigned after the crash and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has sought to soothe public anger by repeatedly apologising and vowing a transparent probe.

Acting transport minister Giorgos Gerapetritis this week said rail traffic will gradually resume from 22 March.

Gerapetritis and former transport ministers will appear before a parliament committee on Monday to answer MPs' questions on the tragedy.

READ | Greek station master court date delayed as anger boils over rail tragedy

With public anger mounting weeks before elections, Mitsotakis has seen a 7.5-point lead in polls cut to half in the latest surveys.

The PM has come under fire for initially pointing to "human error" for the accident and blaming the station master on duty at the time, who allegedly routed the trains onto the same stretch of track by accident.

But railway unions had long been warning about problems on the underfunded and understaffed train network.

Mitsotakis had been expected to set an April election date. Ballots are now expected in May.

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