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Old 25-07-13, 12:55   #1
 
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Update At Least 77 People Dead / Driver Arrested After Passenger Train Derails in Spain

Published July 25, 2013 Associated Press


  • July 24, 2013: Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (AP)


    MADRID The death toll in a passenger train crash in northwestern Spain rose to 77 on Thursday after the train jumped the tracks on a curvy stretch just before arriving in the northwestern shrine city of Santiago de Compostela, a judicial official said.

    Seventy three people were found dead at the scene of the accident and four died in hospitals, said Maria Pardo Rios, spokeswoman for the Galicia region's main court. At least 141 people were injured after the eight-carriage train carrying 218 passengers derailed about an hour before sunset Wednesday night.

    It was Spain's deadliest train accident since 1972, when a train collided with a bus in southwestern Spain, killing 86 people and injuring 112.

    Rescue workers spent the night searching through toppled and smashed cars alongside the tracks at the crash site, and Pardo said it was possible that more bodies would be found at the scene.

    As dawn arrived, cranes brought to the scene were used to lift the cars off the tracks and rescue workers were seen collecting passenger luggage and putting into the back of a truck next to the tracks.

    The site itself was a scene of horror immediately after the crash, with at least one car catching fire and smokes billowing from the scene and another broke into two parts as residents of the urban neighborhood alongside the tracks tried to help victims out of the toppled cars.

    Rescue workers lined up bodies covered in blankets alongside the tracks and some passengers were pulled out of broken windows. Television images showed one man atop a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window. Residents said other rescuers used rocks.

    State-owned train operator Renfe said in a statement an unspecified number of staff were also on board the train during the 8.41 p.m. (1841 GMT) crash on a section of tracks about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Santiago de Compostela that came online two years ago. Spanish media said the train had two conductors aboard and that both survived.

    Renfe and track operator Adif were cooperating with a judge who has been appointed to investigate the accident, Renfe said. Spanish government officials declined comment on possible causes but said it appeared to be an accident and that there were no suspicions of terrorism.

    Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was heading Thursday to the scene of the crash. He was born in Santiago de Compostela, where officials canceled ceremonies Thursday for its annual religious festival that attracts tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world.

    Catholic pilgrims converge on the city to celebrate a festival honoring St. James, the disciple of Jesus whose remains are said to rest in a shrine. The city is the main gathering point for the faithful who make it to the end of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that has drawn Christians since the Middle Ages.

    But the accident created a scene that was "Dante-esque," said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the region of Galicia where Santiago de Compostela is the capital.
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Old 26-07-13, 16:29   #2
 
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Default re: At Least 77 People Dead / Driver Arrested After Passenger Train Derails in Spain

UPDATE: Police detain Spain train crash driver as suspect.

Published July 26, 2013Associated Press

  • A fireman carries a wounded victim from the wreckage of a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain. (Reuters)




SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain Spanish police on Friday detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain, lowered the death toll from 80 to 78 and took possession of the "black box" of the train expected to shed light on why it was going faster than the speed limit on the curve where it derailed.

And in an interview with The Associated Press, an American passenger injured on the train said he saw on a TV monitor screen inside his car that the train was traveling 121 mph seconds before the crash - far above the 50 mph speed limit on the curve where it derailed.

The driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was officially detained in the hospital where he was recovering, said Jaime Iglesias, the National Police chief of the Galicia region where the crash happened just on the outskirts of the regional capital, Santiago de Compostela.

Iglesias said that Garzon Amo would be questioned "as a suspect for a crime linked to the cause of the accident."

The driver, under guard by police, cannot yet testify because of his medical condition, Iglesias said, adding that he did not have details of the medical condition but that it could delay efforts by police to question him.

The revised death toll from 80 to 78 came as forensic scientists matched body parts with each other at a makeshift morgue set up in a sports arena in Santiago de Compostela, said Antonio de Amo, the police chief in charge of the scientific service for Spain's National Police.

De Amo said police are still working to identify what they believe are the remains of six people, and that the count could change as they continue their work associating body parts with each other.

An American victim was identified by the Diocese of Arlington as Ana Maria Cordoba, an administrative employee from northern Virginia. Also among the dead were an Algerian and a Mexican, Spanish police said Friday.

Investigators, meanwhile, have taken possession of the "black box" of the train, which hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, and will hand it over to the investigating judge, Iglesias said, adding that the box had not been opened yet.

The box records train's trip data, including speed and distances and braking and are similar to flight recorders for airplanes.

Court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios said analysis will be performed on the device but she declined comment on how long the analysis will take.

Stephen Ward, 18-year-old Mormon missionary from Utah, said he was writing in his journal when he looked up at the monitor and saw the train's speed. Then, he said, "the train lifted up off the track. It was like a roller coaster."

Seconds later, Ward remembered, a backpack fell from the rack above him and he felt the train fly off the track. That was his last memory before he blacked out on impact.

When Ward woke up, someone was helping him walk out of his train car and crawl out of a ditch where the car had toppled over. He thought he was dreaming for 30 seconds until he felt his blood-drenched face and noticed the scene around him.

"Everyone was covered in blood. There was smoke coming up off the train," he said. "There was a lot of crying, a lot of screaming. There were plenty of dead bodies. It was quite gruesome."
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