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Spain train disaster: Driver faces charges as country mourns

Last Updated: Saturday, July 27, 2013 - 18:12

Santiago de Compostela: The driver of a train that hurtled off the rails killing 78 people in Spain faced possible charges as doctors worked on Saturday to identify the last three victims of the country`s worst rail disaster in decades.

As Spain mourned, the city of Santiago de Compostela where the crash struck prepared a memorial service for the victims Monday in its cathedral, a destination for Catholic pilgrims from around the world.

Police have accused the driver, identified by media as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, of "recklessness" in Wednesday night`s devastating crash.

They said late yesterday that he refused to answer their questions in his hospital bed and the case has been passed to the courts.

The train was said to have been travelling at more than twice the speed limit on a curve when it hurtled off the rails and slammed into a concrete wall, with one carriage leaping up onto a siding.

Smoke billowed from the gutted cars as bodies were strewn across the tracks about four kilometres from the station at Santiago de Compostela. Locals said they came running from their houses to drag passengers from the wreckage.

The grey-haired driver, who reportedly boasted of his love for speed online, was under police surveillance in hospital, said Jaime Iglesias, police chief in the northwestern Galicia region.

The driver faces criminal accusations including "recklessness" but has not yet been charged, Iglesias told a news conference.

A police spokesman later told AFP that the driver had refused to respond to police questioning yesterday and the courts would now decide on judicial action.

Spanish media published photographs of the man they identified as Garzon after the crash, with blood covering the right side of his face.

The driver is not expected to appear in court today and no date has been set for his appearance before a judge, Galicia`s High Court which is leading the investigation said in a statement.

The driver should have started slowing the train before reaching a bend that train drivers had been told to respect, the president of Spanish rail network administrator ADIF said.

"Four kilometres before the accident happened he already had warnings that he had to begin slowing his speed," Gonzalo Ferre told Spanish public television TVE.

Seventy-eight passengers perished, three of whom have yet to be identified, and 178 were injured, regional authorities said.


First Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 - 18:12

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