At least 80 people are feared dead after an express train derailed at high speeds in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia on Wednesday. Dramatic images from a trackside security camera show cars beginning to lift off the rails as the train enters a curve on outside of Santiago de Compostela at a high rate of speed before the locomotive plows into the camera sideways.
The train derailed shortly before 9pm local time as it sped along a curve in the tracks approaching the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia.
Even several hours after the accident rescue crews were still trying to reach passengers trapped in the wreckage. Photographs of the scene showed rows of corpses covered in blankets on the ground next to derailment site.
The accident occurred on the eve of the feast of St James, a regional bank holiday in Galicia, and a festival which attracts hordes of pilgrims to the ancient city.
The train and track were operated by Spain's state-run RENFE rail network. While the train in Wednesday's derailment is not part of Spain's high-speed AVE [Alta Velocidad Española- NANESB!] fleet, the conventional trainset is capable of reaching speeds of 155 MPH.
Investigators combing through the wreckage have found the train's black box/event recorder and the Guardia Civil is also questioning the driver, who escaped the train wreck with relatively minor injuries. Pope Francis extended his condolences and Spain's King Juan Carlos visited some of the survivors who were being treated at a hospital in Santiago de Compostela on Thursday.
This week's derailment is the worst rail disaster in Spain since a 1945 collision between a passenger train and a freight train in Las Acubillas, south of Madrid.