At least 80 dead in train derailment

At least 5 Americans among those injured in Spanish rail crash

July 25, 2013

Spain’s worst rail crash in decades left at least 80 dead and score more injured, officials said on Thursday. At least five Americans are among 178 people hurt in a high-speed train accident in Spain. About 95 of those injured were still hospitalized, CNN reported.

The eight car high speed train came off the tracks just outside the pilgrimage center of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, about 8:41 p.m., about an hour before sunset.

The derailment about 2.5 miles from the Santiago train station sent cars flying and rolling over on their sides.

No official cause has been determined, although Spanish media outlets reported that the train, with 218 passengers and nearly 30 crew members on board, was taking a curve at about twice the maximum permitted speed.

One local official described the aftermath of the crash, on the eve of one of Europe’s biggest Christian festivals, as like a scene from hell, with bodies strewn next to the tracks.

The train driver was under formal police investigation, a spokeswoman for Galicia’s Supreme Court told Reuters, without naming him. The train had two drivers and one was in hospital, the Galicia government said.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are to visit Santiago de Compostela on Thursday.

Earlier, the King said the incident had saddened the country and the international community. He sent a message to the victims and their families conveying “the deepest love and all the solidarity from the Royal Family, and from the whole nation”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in the region, cleared his schedule to tour the scene, and offer support to injured victims and families of the dead and injured, ThinkSpain reported. He said he was “devastated” by the high-speed crash.

“I want to express my affection and solidarity with the victims of this terrible train accident,” Rajoy said on Twitter announcing his visit. On Thursday, Mr. Rajoy declared three days of official mourning.

Pope Francis, who is on a visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, sent a telegram to the bishop of Santiago de Compostela, Julian Barrio Barrio, offering his support and prayers for all those affected by the tragedy.

The disaster stirred memories of a train bombing in Madrid in 2004, carried out by Islamist militants that killed 191 people, although officials do no suspect an attack this time.

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