Five dead, more than 30 injured in northern Greece car pile-up

The death toll from the multi-car pile-up that took place on the Egnatia motorway earlier on Sunday had climbed to five by the evening, after one man died during surgery, while the count for those injured had risen to 30. In statements after his arrest, the 39-year-old foreign truck driver that ploughed into at least 30 cars told police that his brakes had failed.

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The tragic accident occurred on the Egnatia Odos national motorway near the village of Messi, at the intersection between Veria and Kouloura, at 10:20 am on Sunday morning. It was caused when a truck with Romanian license plates crashed into a line of cars brought to a standstill by roadworks.

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Central Macedonia Fire Brigade commander Chyssanthos Athanassopoulos told ANA-MPA that more than 30 cars were involved  in the collision, which happened on the Veria-Thessaloniki lane, among them three large trucks. The cars were smashed together into a single mass and some caught fire.

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The response by emergency service was immediate, with authorities rushing to the scene to extricate people trapped in the wreckage. Four people pulled out dead at the site of the accident, including two Greek women aged 53, a 42-year-old Greek man and a Bulgarian national of unknown age. A fifth man who was seriously injured died on the operating table at a Thessaloniki hospital later the same day.

More than 30 people with injuries were taken to hospital, either in ambulances or in private cars. Two infants, aged six months and 1.5 years, were reported to be in grave condition.

The fire brigade commander also said that two vehicles, a private car and a truck, were destroyed by fire and charred remains were found in the private car.

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Police arrested the 39-year-old driver of the truck that caused the accident, as well as the 42-year-old supervisor left in charge by the contractor carrying out the roadworks. Under questioning, the driver said that he had seen electronic signs warning motorists of the roadworks ahead, as well as two workers with flags, but that his brakes blocked and he was unable to reduce speed, especially since the road was downhill at that point.

Both the driver and the supervisor will be held in custody until Monday, when they will be led before a Veria public prosecutor.

The lanes from Thessaloniki to Veria were opened again to traffic shortly after 17:00 on Sunday, while the opposite lane heading from Veria to Thessaloniki remains closed, with traffic diverted onto other roads.

With info from thetoc.gr, AP, amna.gr
Photo: Vasilis Ververidis (Eurokinissi)

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