Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Video: Horror train crash in Spain kills 80 and injures British citizen

A Briton is among the injured in a horrific rail crash in Spain which has claimed 80 lives.

The derailment of the Madrid to Ferrol train outside the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia led to scenes of devastation.

Toppled and smashed carriages lay alongside the track, with a least one carriage having caught fire after the crash.

One carriage was pointed into the air with one of its ends twisted and disfigured. Another was cut in two.

Rescue workers lined up bodies covered in blankets alongside the tracks and some passengers were pulled out of broken windows.

Rescue workers were still searching through the smouldering wreckage of the train's cars this morning in the pre-dawn darkness.

The Briton was among 140 people injured in the accident. The train was operated by the state-owned Renfe company which runs all passenger services in Spain. It was carrying 218 passengers.

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Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I was very saddened to hear of the terrible train accident near Santiago de Compostela in Spain last night.

"My thoughts are with all those affected and their friends and family. The British Embassy team in Spain are working closely with the Spanish authorities as they respond to this tragedy.

"We know that one British citizen was injured in this accident and the embassy has been providing consular support."

The accident was the worst on Spanish tracks for more than 40 years. There was speculation that the train was travelling too quickly around a bend when the accident happened on Wednesday evening.

Lidia Cannon, who previously lived in the city and was visiting for the local fiesta celebrating St James, said she saw a woman who had lost a foot as a result of the train crash.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We heard a big bang, like, we thought it was an air crash, I thought it was a car crash, other people thought it was a bomb. It was very, very loud, the noise."

Ms Cannon said people went to help and told of one man's experience of visiting the crash site.

She said: "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.

"I saw a woman who had lost one foot. But instead of crying or shouting or whatever because of the pain she was looking very, very serious. They were carrying her away and she had her sight, her eyes, were looking to one point - she was in shock."

After the crash, bodies were seen covered in blankets next to the tracks and rescue workers tried to get trapped people out of the train's carriages, with smoke billowing from some of the wreckage.

Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows, and one man stood on a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window.

Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the region of Galicia, described the scene as "Dante-esque".

One of the passengers, Sergio Prego, said: "The train travelled very fast and derailed and turned over on the bend in the track. It's a disaster. I've been very lucky because I'm one of the few to be able to walk out."

Another passenger, Ricardo Montero, said: "When the train reached that bend it began to flip over, many times, with some carriages ending up on top of others, leaving many people trapped below. We had to get under the carriages to get out."

The worst train disasters in Europe in recent times
The worst train disasters in Europe in recent times

Keith Barrow, associate editor of International Railway Journal, whose editorial offices are in Falmouth in Cornwall, said today: "Spanish railways' safety record is pretty good.

"Major accidents have been extremely rare. A lot of money has been poured into the system and passenger numbers were rising before the 2008 recession, which has hit Spain particularly badly.

"There has been a big reduction in fares lately to try to get more passengers to use the railways. A number of lines have been electrified and there are plans to allow private companies to operate services."

Mr Barrow said the train involved in the Santiago accident was a Class 730 high-speed train.

He went on: "Investigators will want to recover the data recorder from the train's cab so they can establish just what happened.

"People in Spain will obviously be shocked by what has happened. It's the worst crash they have had in many years. But I don't think people will be put off travelling by train."

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