Death toll in Spain derailment hits 77; terrorism ruled out.
Spain | SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA | 25 Jul 2013 :: Spanish investigators tried to determine Thursday why a passenger train jumped the tracks and sent eight cars crashing into each other just before arriving in this northwestern shrine city on the eve of a major Christian religious festival, killing at least 77 people and injuring more than 140.
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 — some of them critically — after the eight-carriage train carrying 218 passengers derailed about an hour before sunset Wednesday night.
Authorities did not identify any possible causes of the accident on a pronounced curve just outside Santiago de Compostela, but a spokeswoman with Spain's Interior Ministry said Thursday that the possibility that the derailment was caused by a terrorist attack had been ruled out. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ministry policy.
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. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, went to the crash scene on Thursday. Officials in the city canceled ceremonies for its annual religious festival, which attracts tens of thousands of Christians from around the world.
Rescue workers spent the night searching through smashed cars alongside the tracks, and Pardo said it was possible that the death toll could go higher. Many of the dead were taken to a makeshift morgue set up in the city's largest indoor sports arena.
A regional Galicia health official, Rocio Mosquera, told reporters at a press conference early Thursday morning that 141 passengers from the train had been treated at area hospitals, with their conditions ranging from light injuries to serious. Some were still in surgery hours after the crash.
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 it into a truck next to the tracks.
The site itself was a scene of horror immediately after the crash. Smoke billowed from at least one car which caught fire; another broke into two parts. Residents of the urban neighborhood alongside the tracks struggled 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. (Courtesy:Los Angeles Times)