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Cyprus bids farewell to train crash victims

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The funerals of the two Cypriot victims of the deadly train crash in Greece will be conducted on Monday after their bodies were flown home.

The remains of student Kyprianos Papaioannou, aged 23 and Anastasia Adamidou, 24, were flown from Thessaloniki to Larnaca airport on Sunday evening.

Both victims were identified by their DNA.

Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos and Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Marilena Evangelou were at the airport.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, Kombos said that the presence of cabinet members was “a small token of our support.”

“Cyprus is devastated by the unspeakable tragedy in Tempi, by the unexpected loss of its children and all the victims on board the tragic train in Greece.

“The grief is great, incomprehensible,” said the minister.

Papaioannou’s funeral took place at the Petrou and Pavlou church in his home village of Avgorou, Famagusta, at 10 am.

An overnight liturgy was carried out on Sunday night at the church.

The family requested people who attend the funeral be dressed in white, and instead of wreaths, people can make donations for restoration works on the church.

Papaioannou’s father, a local priest, described the ordeal as “the worst nightmare of my life.”

He said it was agony for a parent to lose their child.

Anastasia Adamidou’s funeral takes place on Monday at 2 pm at the Ayious Anargirous church in Paphos.

The state is covering the cost of both Papaioannou’s family and Adamidou’s funerals.

The families of the victims have requested media not cover the funerals.

Papaioannou, 23, graduated from the Famagusta Music School in 2018 with excellent grades.

After his military service as a commando, he continued his studies in law at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Adamidou, 24, from Paphos, graduated from the Dentistry School of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki.

She had boarded the train on her return from Bulgaria, where she had gone to attend the graduation ceremony of a close friend.

They were amongst the list of 57 people who died due to the train crash in Tempi, close to Larissa, in what has been described as Greece’s worst train crash.

The crash occurred as the passenger train from Athens to Thessaloniki emerged from a tunnel and hit a freight train.

Local authorities have since arrested the station master at the Larissa train station, who has reportedly admitted to committing a fatal error which led to the accident.

As a result of the fatal error, the two trains found themselves head-to-head on the same track while a warning system failed to alert the drivers to stop.

Evidence emerging later revealed that a series of omissions on behalf of authorities and the railway operator TRAINOSE, as a warning system and a safety net system had not been installed despite being purchased some 20 years ago.

Greece sold railway operator TRAINOSE under its international bailout programme in 2017 to Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, expecting hundreds of millions of euros to be invested in rail infrastructure.

The Italian operation has responsibility for passenger and freight, and the Greek state-controlled OSE for infrastructure.

Protests

Fresh protests broke out in Greece on Sunday over a deadly train collision, despite the prime minister apologising.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, “we cannot, will not, and must not hide behind human error”.

The collision has sparked fury over safety standards on the Greek railway network.

Sunday’s protests saw police using tear gas on demonstrators who gathered outside parliament in Athens.

“This crime should not be covered up; we will be the voice of all the dead,” read one of the slogans.

Greek authorities made public dispatch recordings revealing that one of the train drivers involved had received instructions to ignore a red light.

Greece has a poor record of railway passenger safety compared with other European countries, recording the highest railway fatality rate per million train kilometres from 2018 to 2020 among 28 nations on the continent, according to the European Union Agency for Railways.