77 die in train crash in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Emergency workers at the site of the crash.
Image: Contando Estrelas.
Smoke rising from the aftermath of the crash.
Image: Contando Estrelas.

A train derailment at 20:41 local time (1841 UTC) yesterday just outside the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-western Spain has left at least 77 people dead and 131 injured, of which 20 are in a serious condition. Authorities have not yet definitively given a cause for the crash but are currently treating it as likely to be an accident.

The train was going from Madrid to the coastal city of Ferrol. Reports indicate the train was travelling at an excessive speed — 180 kilometers an hour, more than twice the recommended speed of 80 kilometers an hour. RENFE, the train company, have said the train was running five minutes late.

Ricardo Montero, a man who was on the train, told radio station Cadena SER: "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."

The crash occurred a day before a festival in Santiago was due to start, which has now been cancelled. The Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy made a statement: "In the face of a tragedy such as just happened in Santiago de Compostela on the eve of its big day, I can only express my deepest sympathy as a Spaniard and a Galician." Rajoy is to visit the site of the accident today.