Train in Spanish crash was 'travelling at more than double the speed limit'
The train that derailed in Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday evening killing 80 people and leaving more than a hundred injured was reportedly travelling at more than twice the speed limit. See below for video and updates on the latest developments.
2:30PM BST 25 Jul 2013
• 80 killed and authorities warn death toll could rise
• First video of the moment of the crash has emerged
• Spanish media says driver admitted he was going too fast
• Local media report train was travelling at twice speed limit
• Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visits scene of accident
• Spanish king and queen due to visit later today
• British citizen among at least 130 injured
The driver of the train made a panicked phone call moments before the crash saying that the train was going too fast.
"I'm at 190 (kmph) and I'm going to derail!" the engine driver told the controllers of RENFE, the rail network.
Two men were at the controls of the train at the time, and it was not clear who had made the call.
Police sources told Spanish newspaper El Pais that, moments after the crash, the traumatised driver made another call to the operator.
25 Jul 2013
"It derailed!" he said. "What am I going to do, what am I going to do? We are all humans – we're humans. I hope there are no fatalities because it will all be on my conscience."
Both the drivers escaped the crash with minor injuries.
The carriages careened off the tracks at a curve approaching the station at Santiago where the limit is set at 80 km per hour (50mph).
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, toured the crash scene alongside rescue workers and went to a nearby hospital to visit some of the wounded and their families.
"For a native of Santiago, like me, this is the saddest day," he said. He said judicial authorities and the Public Works Ministry had launched parallel investigations into what caused the crash.
Eyewitness accounts backed by security-camera footage of the moment of disaster suggested that the eight-carriage train carrying 218 passengers was speeding as it tried to turn left underneath a road bridge.
The footage, which the Spanish railway authority Adif said probably came from one of its cameras, shows the train carriages start to buckle soon into the turn, with the first and second passenger carriages leaving the tracks first. The engine itself quickly follows, violently tipping on to its right side as it crashes into a concrete security wall and bulldozes its way along the ground.
In the background, all the rear carriages can be seen starting to decouple and come off the tracks. The picture goes blank as the engine appears to crash directly into the camera.
An American survivor of the crash, Stephen Ward, 18, from Utah, told The Daily Telegraph that he felt lucky to be alive.
"I remember the train going very fast round a sharp bend and then bags flying off the overhead baggage shelf. A woman across from me was flung from her seat and then I think the train must have derailed. At that point I passed out and when I came to I was being dragged from the carriage," he said from a hospital bed in La Coruna.
Stephen Ward, 18, from Utah
"It was like a scene from hell. I thought I was dreaming. There was blood everywhere, my own and other people's. And bodies were being carried out. There were pulling people from the wreckage. Some were already dead and others looked like they were about to die. We were like the walking dead."
Mr Ward, who was travelling on his own, was in Spain on a religious fellowship for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
"I have messed my neck up real bad and have stitches in four places on my head and face but by the sounds of it I am just real lucky to be here, " he said.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the region of Galicia, described the scene as "Dante-esque".
"I saw a woman who had lost one foot," said Lidia Cannon, a tourist visiting the local fiesta. "But instead of crying or shouting or whatever because of the pain she was looking very, very serious. She was in shock."
She also told Radio 4's Today programme of one man's experience of visiting the crash site.
"He couldn't cope with it. He said he was there 20 minutes but he took out a man that was asking for his wife and his wife was inside, dead. A boy was looking for his girlfriend and she was inside the train, dead.
"He was taking out people that had mobile phones in their pockets ringing all the time. He couldn't cope with it because policemen and doctors and everyone was crying and he had to leave."
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Santiago de Compostela, was to visit the scene of the accident later on Thursday.
"I want to express my affection and solidarity with the victims of the terrible train accident in Santiago," he said in a Twitter message.
Rescue workers pull victims from a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain (Reuters)
Both the state-owned train operator Renfe and Adif, which is in charge of the tracks, have opened an investigation into the cause of the derailment.
It marks the worst rail accident in Spain since around 500 people were killed in 1944 in a three-train collision inside a tunnel near Leon, in the northern centre of Spain.
An official source said no statement would be made regarding the cause until the black boxes of the train were examined, but said it was most likely an accident.
“We are moving away from the hypothesis of sabotage or attack,” he said.
Passengers described the moment of the accident and the terrifying aftermath.
“It was going so quickly. ... It seems that on a curve the train started to twist, and the wagons piled up one on top of the other,” passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station.
“A lot of people were squashed on the bottom. We tried to squeeze out of the bottom of the wagons to get out and we realised the train was burning. ... I was in the second wagon and there was fire. ... I saw corpses,” he added.
Rescuers work at the site where a train crashed on the approach to Santiago de Compostela Station in northern Spain (AP)
Authorities confirmed that at least 78 people had died in the catastrophe.
A further 130 people were being treated for injuries, among them a British citizen. At least 20 of those in hospital were described as being in a “serious condition”.
The badly damaged locomotive at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela (AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue crews worked overnight to access the smouldering wreckage of twisted metal and free survivors. Images of the disaster site showed dozens of bodies laid out on the ground covered with blankets.
The eight carriage train carrying 222 passengers plus crew was travelling from Madrid bound for El Ferrol in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia.
It derailed at 8.40 pm local time as the city of Santiago de Compostela prepared to celebrate its summer festival dedicated to Saint James the Apostle.