Death toll in Spanish train crash rises to 78

The Spanish government is working under the assumption that the crash was an accident, not an act of terror

Topics: Spain, Europe, Train crash, Santiago,

The casualty toll has risen to 78 dead and more than 130 injured after a devastating train crash in northwest Spain yesterday. According to El Pais newspaper, quoted in Reuters, the train was traveling at more than twice the speed limit on a curve. The news agency described the “Dante-esque” scene:

In what one local official described as a scene from hell, bodies covered in blankets lay next to the overturned carriages as smoke billowed from the wreckage after the disaster.

Firefighters clambered desperately over the twisted metal trying to get survivors out of the windows, while ambulances and fire engines surrounded the scene. Cranes were still pulling out mangled debris on Thursday morning, 12 hours after the crash.

The government said it was working on the assumption the derailment was an accident…

Passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station the train approached the curve at high speed, twisted and wagons piled up one on top of the other.

“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. … I was in the second wagon and there was fire. … I saw corpses,” he said.

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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