Europe

Reports: 60 dead, 125 hurt when Spanish train derails

Express train from Madrid left rails on curve in Galicia region, toppling passenger cars.A high-speed train derailed on a curve Wednesday night in northwestern Spain, killing about 60 passengers and injuring more than 125 others, according to Spanish media.
 
The leader of the Galicia region earlier reported up to 45 dead and 70 hurt.
 
Officials said initially that the crash, which occurred on the eve of a local Christian festival, appeared to be an accident, not terrorism. In 2004, Islamists blew up trains in Madrid, killing 191 and wounding hundreds.
 
The express train, carrying 218 people between Madrid and Ferrol, left the tracks at 8:42 p.m. (2:42 p.m. ET) about two miles from the station at Santiago de Compostela, in the Galician region, said the government-owned railway, Renfe. The number of crewmembers was not released.
 
All 13 carriages derailed, and four overturned, the BBC reported. TV images showed one car torn apart, another on fire and blanket-covered bodies beside the ruined carriages.
 
"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 realized the train was burning," passenger Ricardo Montesco told radio station Cadena SER. "I was in the second wagon and there was fire. I saw corpses."
 
Early Thursday local time, state television broadcaster RTVE reported at least 60 dead and 125 injured, while radio station Cadena SER also put the death toll at 60 and said more than 140 were injured.
 
The casualty reports came hours after Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the Galician region, told radio station Cope that between 40 and 45 people had died, totals she called "provisional," Reuters reported. More than 20 people suffered serious injuries, he said, and rescuers had finished entering the carriages that were destroyed.
 
"There are bodies lying on the railway track. It's a Dante-esque scene," Nunez told SER, the AFP news agency reported.
 
Earlier, he put the death toll at 35 and said 100 had been injured.
 
Nunez said it was too soon to say what caused the accident.
 
CNN said an aide to the prime minister indicated that terrorism was not likely.
 
Photographer Xabier Martinez told the Associated Press that two injured passengers told him they felt a strong vibration before the train jumped the track.
 
A witness told Cadena SER she heard a loud explosion just before the train derailed, Reuters reported. That claim has not been confirmed.
 
Festivities were planned Thursday in Santiago de Compostola to celebrate St James, one of Jesus's 12 apostles whose remains are claimed to buried there. Officials said many of the travelers likely were pilgrims headed to the city, about 60 miles south of Ferrol. Officials canceled the festivities.
 
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, who was born in Santiago de Compostola, convened an emergency ministerial meeting late Wednesday, the BBC said. He plans to visit the accident scene Thursday morning.
 
"I want to express my affection and solidarity with the victims of the terrible train accident in Santiago," Rajoy tweeted.
 
Two weeks ago in France, six people died when several cars of a train packed ahead of the Bastille Day holiday derailed in a station outside Paris. Officials blamed a faulty track connector.

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