Photo: Spanish train crash
Two more people have died, raising the death toll from the derailment of a high-speed train just outside the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela to 80, officials said Thursday.
Nearly 100 people, including 31 adults and four children listed in critical condition, are still hospitalized for treatment of injuries sustained in the accident on Wednesday evening.
The train’s driver is being investigated in connection with the derailment, with officials saying that excessive speed may be to blame for the accident.
The driver, identified as Francisco Jose Garzon, apparently admitted that he was going at around 190 kph (118 mph) on a curve with a speed limit of 80 kph (about 50 mph).
“I derailed, what am I going to do, what am I going to do,” Garzon told the national government’s representative in the northwestern region of Galicia, where Santiago de Compostela is located.
The high-speed passenger train went off the tracks along the Madrid-Ferrol route.
The court investigating the accident ordered police to take a statement from the driver as a suspect in the case.
The 52-year-old Garzon, who has worked as a train operator since the 1990s, has driven high-speed trains on the Madrid-Ferrol line for a year.
Garzon is currently under police guard at a hospital.
A giant crane is being used to remove the shattered rail cars from the tracks so they can be moved to a site near Santiago, where they will be secured as evidence in the case.
The train involved in the accident entered service in 2012 and can go up to 250 kph (155 mph) on international rail networks and 220 kph (136 mph) on the Spanish high-speed rail system.
The signals on the stretch where the accident occurred were operating properly at the time of the derailment and the train had been inspected earlier in the day on Wednesday, Spanish railway operator Adif said.
Only 58 of the 80 fatalities have been identified and the coroner’s office is working to identify the rest of the victims.
Seventy-three of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene and seven others died at hospitals, Galician regional government officials said.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday announced that Spain would observe three days of national mourning for the accident victims.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia traveled to Santiago de Compostela on Thursday to visit the injured.
“We Spaniards are all united at this time. Our thoughts are with the victims and with their families and friends,” the king told reporters.