July 25, 2013

80 dead in Spain train crash; dramatic video shows impact

An analysis of video images suggests that the train may have been traveling at twice the speed limit for that stretch of track.

By Hernan Munoz / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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This combination image taken from security camera video shows clockwise from top left the train derailing in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday.


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This aerial image taken from video shows the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday. The train jumped the tracks on a curvy stretch just before arriving in the northwestern city, a judicial official said.


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As dawn broke, cranes lifted the carriages away from the tracks. Rescue workers collected passengers' scattered luggage and loaded it into a truck.

Train company Renfe said it and Adif, the state-owned company that manages tracks, signals and other railway infrastructure, were cooperating with the judge appointed to investigate the accident.

Several injured passengers said they felt a strong vibration just before the cars jumped the tracks, according to Xabier Martinez, a photographer who talked with them after arriving at the scene as rescue workers were still removing bodies.

One passenger, Ricardo Montero, told the Cadena Ser radio station that some carriages ended up on top of others, trapping many people.

"We had to get under the carriages to get out," he said.

Another passenger, Sergio Prego, told Cadena Ser the train "traveled very fast" just before it derailed and the cars flipped upside down, on their sides and into the air.

"I've been very lucky because I'm one of the few able to walk out," Prego said.

The Alvia 730 series train started from Madrid and was scheduled to end its journey at El Ferrol, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Santiago de Compostela. Alvia operates high-speed services, but they do not go as fast as Spain's fastest bullet trains, called AVEs.

The maximum Alvia speed is 250 kph (155 mph) on tracks made especially for the AVEs, and they travel at a maximum speed of 220 kph (137 mph) on normal-gauge rails.

Other Spanish train calamities include a 1944 accident involving three trains that crashed in a tunnel. That disaster produced wildly disputed death tolls ranging from the government's official count of 78 to researchers' later estimated tolls exceeding 500.

In 2006, 43 people died when a subway train crashed because of excessive speed in the southern city of Valencia.

In 2004, 191 died when al-Qaida-inspired terrorists detonated 10 bombs on four Madrid commuter trains.

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Additional Photos

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Emergency personnel conduct rescue operations Thursday at the site of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The passenger train derailed Wednesday night on a curvy stretch of track in northwestern Spain, the country's worst rail accident in decades.


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Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday. Although it was not one of Spain's fastest trains, it was a relatively luxurious version that uses the same kind of track as Spain's fastest expresses.



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