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At Least 80 Killed In High-Speed Spanish Train Crash

  • RFE/RL

Spanish officials say at least 80 people have been killed and more than 140 injured in a high-speed train derailment in the northwestern part of the country.

The crash occurred near the train station in Santiago de Compostela, about 95 kilometers south of El Ferrol. The train had been heading to El Ferrol from Madrid.

Video from a security camera shows the fast-moving train derailing and hitting a wall while coming around a bend.

Police have put one of the train's drivers under formal investigation.The state railway company said it was too early to determine the cause of the crash, but media reports said the train was travelling at 190 kilometers per hour, twice the speed limit.

Earlier, Spanish television broadcast images of four passenger cars on their sides and one car torn open, with smoke rising into the air.

"I heard an explosion," one eyewitness said, "and when I arrived, one of the carriages was already over the road that comes out from there. The neighbors all came over, but we began to get scared because one of the firemen said it might explode, so we retreated. But then it was OK, so we went back."

Speaking to journalists near the crash site, Samuel Juarez, a delegate of the regional government of Galicia, described the disaster.

"The train was carrying around 247 passengers, according to our numbers. The derailment was, indeed, very violent," he said. "A train carriage landed on a lateral track and at the moment we still don't have any hypothesis of the causes of the accident."

At this point, authorities say, they think the derailment was an accident rather than the result of sabotage or terrorism.

PHOTO GALLERY: Images from the crash site

Catholic pilgrims have been gathering near Santiago de Compostela to celebrate a festival honoring St. James, a disciple of Jesus whose remains are said to rest in a shrine.

Angel Curras Fernandez, mayor of Santiago de Compostela, said the authorities had responded with plans to help the victims and their families.

"As you can imagine, all events for the local festival have been canceled and the Cersia and San Lazaro buildings are going to be fitted out for the families of victims," he said.

"They will probably become multipurpose facilities for the bodies of victims. The injured are being looked after, as the delegate of the government said, in the General Hospital of Galicia."

Ninety-five of the injured remained in hospital on July 25, 36 in critical condition.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, visited the accident site and victims at a hospital. He also signed a decree declaring three days of official mourning across the country.

The crash was Spain's deadliest railway accident in almost 70 years.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters