Witness Interviews on New York MTA Metro-North Train Derail, 4 Passengers Dead
Metro-North Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Terminal Passenger Train Derails in Bronx New York
MTA Metro-North Train derails in New York at Spitting Devil’s Curve, Passenger Deaths Confirmed
Metro North Train Derails in Bronx area of New York City[RAW FOOTOGE]
Metro-North train derails in The Bronx
Metro-North Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Terminal Train Derailment Initial Information
Member Weener briefs media on Bronx, N.Y., Metro North train derailment, December 1, 2013
NTSB: Train going too fast at curve before wreck
A commuter train that derailed over the weekend, killing four passengers, was hurtling at 82 mph as it entered a 30 mph curve, a federal investigator said Monday. But whether the wreck was the result of human error or mechanical trouble was unclear, he said.
Safety experts said the tragedy might have been prevented if Metro-North Railroad had installed automated crash-avoidance technology that safety authorities have been urging for decades.
The locomotive’s speed was extracted from the train’s two data recorders after the Sunday morning accident, which happened in the Bronx along a bend so sharp that the speed limit drops from 70 mph to 30 mph.
Asked why the train was going so fast, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said: “That’s the question we need to answer.”
Weener would not disclose what the engineer operating the train told investigators, and he said results of drug and alcohol tests were not yet available. Investigators are also examining the engineer’s cellphone, apparently to determine whether he was distracted.
“When I heard about the speed, I gulped,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
The engineer, William Rockefeller, was injured and “is totally traumatized by everything that has happened,” said Anthony Bottalico, executive director of the rail employees union.
He said Rockefeller, 46, was cooperating fully with investigators.
“He’s a sincere human being with an impeccable record that I know of. He’s diligent and competent,” Bottalico said. Rockefeller has been an engineer for about 11 years and a Metro-North employee for about 20, he said.
Weener sketched a scenario that suggested that the throttle was let up and the brakes were fully applied way too late to stave off disaster.
He said the throttle went to idle six seconds before the derailed train came to a complete stop — “very late in the game” for a train going that fast — and the brakes were fully engaged five seconds before the train stopped.
It takes about a mile for a train going 70 mph to stop, according to Steve Ditmeyer, a former Federal Railroad Administration official who now teaches at Michigan State University.
Asked whether the tragedy was the result of human error or faulty brakes, Weener said: “The answer is, at this point in time, we can’t tell.”
But he said investigators are not aware of any problems with the brakes during the nine stops the train made before the derailment.
The wreck came two years before the federal government’s deadline for Metro-North and other railroads to install automatic-slowdown technology designed to prevent catastrophes caused by human error.
Metro-North’s parent agency and other railroads have pressed the government to extend Congress’ 2015 deadline a few years because of the cost and complexity of the Positive Train Control system, which uses GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor trains and stop them from colliding, derailing or going the wrong way.
Ditmeyer said the technology would have monitored the brakes and would not have allowed the train in Sunday’s tragedy to exceed the speed limit.
4 dead, 63 injured in NYC train derail ‘bloodbath’
By Larry Celona, Jamie Schram and Kevin Sheehan
A Metro-North train loaded with holiday travelers derailed as it hurtled around a tight Bronx curve just north of Manhattan on Sunday — leaving at least four dead and 63 injured in a crash the engineer blamed on brake malfunction.
“It was just a bloodbath,” a shaken FDNY worker said of the scene of twisted metal and shattered glass along a bucolic stretch of the Hudson River, where the accident occurred just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station at 7:22 a.m.
Rescue crews were still working early Monday morning to right three of the seven derailed passenger cars to look for more possible bodies.
The train’s operator — 20-year MTA veteran William Rockefeller, 46, of upstate Germantown — was said to have told emergency responders that the brakes didn’t work.
“The guy’s distraught over the accident and the people who were injured,” a source said of Rockefeller, who was among those hurt.
All of those killed were New Yorkers. They included two women — Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens, and Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh — as well as married dads James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose and James Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring.
Three of the dead were thrown from the Hudson Line train, which had originated in Poughkeepsie at 5:54 a.m., bound for Grand Central. Their bodies were recovered between the second and third cars.
Passenger Emilie Miyauchi, 28, said she used her yoga mat to cover one of the victims.
“[She] seemed like she had lost most of her head. The side of the car was just covered in her blood,” she recalled.
Injured passengers are removed from the derailed Metro-North train.Photo: William Farrington
It was the first time any passenger had been killed in Metro-North’s 31-year history.
Riders described chaos as the train flew off the tracks.
“I was just holding on . . . and people were flying around,” said Eddie Russell, 48, who was headed to work as a guard at SiriusXM. “I was afraid I was going to fall out the window.”
Joel Zaritsky said he was asleep and woke up as his train car started rolling over.
“Then I saw the gravel coming at me, and I heard people screaming,” he said.
The scene “looked like a toy train set that was mangled by some super-powerful force,” Gov. Cuomo later told CNN.
Gov. Cuomo said Monday that the high speed of the train probably caused the accident.
“I think it’s going to be speed-related,” he said. “It’s not about the turn. I think it’s going to be about the speed…” he said on NBC’s “Today” show.
Cuomo added that investigators are still trying to determine if the excessive speed was caused by “operator error” or a mechanical or other problem.
The governor called the scene of the tragedy horrific.
“It was actually worse than it looks,” he said.
Later, on Fox’s “Good Day New York,” he said it was hard to describe what he saw.
“This was breathtaking,” Cuomo recalled. “One minute everything is fine and the next minute we lost New Yorkers in a really tragic and violent way.
The first train car landed inches from Spuyten Duyvil Creek. NYPD divers searched the water to make sure no victims were thrown in.
The train, pushed by a diesel locomotive from behind, should have been going 70 mph before it slowed to 30 mph to round the curve, officials said.
Passengers told probers that the train seemed to be going much faster than usual.
“I have no idea why. I take this train every morning, and they always slow on this curve,” passenger Frank Tatulli told WABC-TV.
A person is evacuated from the scene of the derailment of a Metro-North passenger train in The Bronx.Photo: AP
Investigators recovered the train’s “black box,” which should reveal how fast it was going when it crashed, said officials with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the probe.
There were 120 passengers aboard — making it about half full — along with four crew.
At least 11 people were critically hurt, including a man in his early 40s who suffered a spinal-cord injury and may be paralyzed, authorities said. A 14-year-old boy also was critical.
Another six people were hospitalized in serious condition.
Firefighters at the scene where a train derailed in The Bronx Sunday morning.Photo: Theodore Parisienne
The train’s conductor was among those injured, as were three city cops. The most seriously hurt officer, Elsie Rodriguez, was on her way to work at her domestic-violence post at the 40th Precinct station in The Bronx, said sources, who added that she broke her collarbone.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly visited Rodriguez at St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx. Mayor Bloomberg — who had been MIA for most of the day, with staffers refusing to say where he was — also dropped in to see Rodriguez on Sunday evening.
“We chitchatted about her job and how I was going to be unemployed, and she thought that was funny,” Bloomberg said.
Asked about why he hadn’t been at the accident scene, the mayor responded, “What can I do? I’m not a professional firefighter or a police officer. There’s nothing I can do! What I can do is make sure the right people from New York . . . are there and have all the resources that they want.”
Two other cops were treated at Montefiore Medical Center, also in The Bronx. They were identified as Richie Hernandez of the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit and Gabriel Rodriguez of the 42nd Precinct. Rodriguez, who was on his way to work, was treated for a leg injury and released, sources said.
An NYPD school-safety officer also was on board, along with a Police Department recruit, but neither was hurt, sources said.
NTSB member Earl Weener said six teams of investigators would be probing everything from the train’s speed and instruments to its maintenance and personnel records and the condition of the tracks.
“Our mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened,” he said.
Cuomo insisted that the train route’s curve had nothing to do with anything.
“Trains take the curve every day 365 days a year, so it’s not the fact that there’s a curve here,’’ he said. “There has to be another factor.’’
The accident was the second involving a Metro-North train in six months.
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CCTV Video Shows Spain Train Crash
Spain Train Crash CAUGHT ON CAMERA! | Moment High Speed Train Derails in Santiago, Spain
BBC News Spain train crash Video shows moment of derailment
Derailment Disaster: High-speed train crash in Spain kills dozens
Spain Train Crash: Santiago Train Derailment Killed 78 | Santiago Tren Accidente
Raw: Train Derails in Spain, Dozens Feared Dead
Spain Train CRASH Near Santiago De Compostela | Accidente Tren en España
Spain train crash: Dozens killed as high-speed train derails in Santiago de Compostela
Train Crash In Spain: At Least 80 Killed near Santiago de Compostela
Driver in custody after 80 killed in Spain train crash
By Teresa Medrano and Tracy Rucinski
The driver of a Spanish train that derailed, killing at least 80 people, was under police guard in hospital on Thursday after the dramatic accident which an official source said was caused by excessive speed.
The eight-carriage train came off the tracks, hit a wall and caught fire just outside the pilgrimage destination Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night. It was one of Europe’s worst rail disasters.
The source had knowledge of the official investigation into a crash which brought misery to Santiago on Thursday, the day when it should have celebrated one of Europe’s biggest Christian festivals. Authorities canceled festivities as the city went into mourning.
The Galicia regional supreme court said in a statement the judge investigating the accident had ordered police to take a statement from the driver.
He was being formally investigated and under police guard but not under arrest, the court said. He was in hospital but it was not clear what kind of injuries he had suffered.
Video footage from a security camera showed the train, with 247 people on board, hurtling into a concrete wall at the side of the track as carriages jack-knifed and the engine overturned.
One local official described the aftermath of the crash as like a scene from hell, with bodies strewn next to the tracks.
The impact was so huge one carriage flew several meters into the air and landed on the other side of a high concrete barrier.
Around 94 people were injured, 35 of them, including four children, in a serious condition, the deputy head of the regional government said.
“We heard a massive noise and we went down the tracks. I helped get a few injured and bodies out of the train. I went into one of the cars but I’d rather not tell you what I saw there,” Ricardo Martinez, a 47-year old baker from Santiago de Compostela, told Reuters.
Newspaper accounts cited witnesses as saying the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon, who had helped rescue victims, shouted into a phone: “I’ve derailed! What do I do?”.
The 52-year-old had been a train driver for 30 years, said a spokeswoman for Renfe, the state train company.
A court source told Reuters there was one driver on the train. Previously, a Galicia government source had said there were two.
TRAIN HIT BEND AT SPEED
El Pais newspaper said the driver told the railway station by radio after being trapped in his cabin that the train entered the bend at 190 kilometers per hour (120 mph). An official source said the speed limit on that stretch of twin track, laid in 2011, was 80 kph.
“We’re only human! We’re only human!” the driver told the station, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the investigation. “I hope there are no dead, because this will weigh on my conscience.”
Investigators were trying to find out why the train was going so fast and why security devices to keep speed within permitted limits had not slowed the train.
Operated by state-owned company Renfe, the train was built by Bombardier and Talgo and was around five years old. It had almost the maximum number of passengers.
Spain’s rail safety record is better than the European average, ranking 18th out of 27 countries in terms of railway deaths per kilometers traveled, the European Railway Agency said. There were 218 train accidents in Spain between 2008-2011, well below the EU average of 426 for the same period.
Firefighters called off a strike to help with the disaster, while hospital staff, many operating on reduced salaries because of spending cuts in recession-hit Spain, worked overtime to tend the injured.
The disaster happened at 8.41 p.m. (2:41 p.m. ET) on the eve of a festival dedicated to St. James, one of Jesus’s 12 disciples, whose remains are said to rest in Santiago’s centuries-old cathedral.
The apostle’s shrine is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across the Pyrenees, which has been followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.
“The main mass (in the cathedral) was transformed from a mass of joy into a mass of mourning,” said Italian pilgrim Irene Valsangiacomo.
KING, PM VISIT
One U.S. citizen died in the crash and five were injured, the State Department said in Washington. Mexico said one of its nationals was among the dead.
At least one British citizen was injured, a British embassy spokesman said. People from several other countries were believed to be among the passengers.
People living nearby ran to the site to help emergency workers tend to the wounded. Ana Taboada, a 29-year-old hospital worker, was one of the first on the scene.
“When the dust lifted I saw corpses. I didn’t make it down to the track, because I was helping the passengers that were coming up the embankment,” she told Reuters. “I saw a man trying to break a window with a stone to help those inside get out.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia region, visited the site and the main hospital on Thursday. He declared three days of official national mourning for the victims of the disaster.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia also went to Santiago and visited the injured in hospital.
“All of Spain is united in grief with the bereaved families,” the king said.
Both Renfe and state-owned Adif, which is in charge of the tracks, opened an investigation into the derailment.
Passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station the train approached the curve at high speed, twisted and the carriages 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 carriage and there was fire. … I saw corpses,” he said.
Clinics in Santiago de Compostela were overwhelmed with people flocking to give blood, while hotels organized free rooms for relatives. Madrid sent forensic scientists and hospital staff to the scene on special flights.
Allianz Seguros, owned by Germany’s Allianz, owns the insurance contract for loss suffered by Renfe passengers, a company spokeswoman told Reuters. The contract does not cover Renfe’s trains. The company had sent experts to the scene.
The disaster stirred memories of a train bombing in Madrid in 2004, carried out by Islamist militants, that killed 191 people, although officials do not suspect an attack this time.
Spain is struggling to emerge from a long-running recession marked by government-driven austerity to bring its deeply indebted finances into order.
But Adif, the state railways infrastructure company, told Reuters no budget cuts had been implemented on maintenance of the line, which connects La Coruna, Santiago de Compostela and Ourense and was inaugurated in 2011.
It said more than 100 million euros a year were being spent on track maintenance in Spain.
(Additional reporting by Inmaculada Sanz, Sonya Dowsett, Sarah White, Andres Gonzalez, Blanca Rodriguez, Julien Toyer, Emma Pinedo, Raquel Castillo, Robert Hetz; Writing by Sonya Dowsett and Julien Toyer and Elisabeth O’Leary,; editing by Barry Moody and Andrew Heavens)
80 dead in Spain crash; video catches train’s final moments
By Al Goodman. Laura Smith-Spark and Laura Perez Maestro, CNN
The train races into view, and in the space of a heartbeat, the cars derail and crash into a wall of concrete, flipping onto their sides and skidding along the track with terrifying speed and force.
Security footage shows the horror of the moment an express train derailed as it hurtled around a curve in northwestern Spain on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the Spanish government in the Galicia region, speaking on routine condition of anonymity, confirmed 80 people have died in the crash.
One U.S. citizen is among the dead, according to Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. At least five U.S. citizens were also injured, she added.
Flames burst out of one train car as another car was snapped in half after the crash. Rescue crews and fellow passengers pulled bodies through broken windows and pried open doors as stunned survivors looked on.
Investigations into the cause of the crash continue, but suggestions that the train was traveling too fast appear to be gaining weight.
The train driver is being questioned by police and is under formal investigation, said Maria Pardo Rios, a spokeswoman for the Galicia regional supreme court. “He is not being charged by a judge at the moment — it is all at a police level,” she said.
Ninety-five of the 178 injured are still hospitalized, the local government’s official Twitter account said. Thirty-two adults and four children are in critical condition.
Most of the deaths happened at the scene, Rios said. In Spain, judges typically record deaths that take place outside of hospitals.
Judicial teams are still at the crash site and expect to find more bodies, she told CNN on Thursday morning.
Interim charge d’affaires Luis G. Moreno at the embassy said it was in touch “with families of some injured American citizens.”
“We are deeply shocked by the news of last night’s train crash in Galicia. Our hearts and prayers are with the friends and families of the victims,” he said Thursday.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said one British citizen was injured.
The crash came on the eve of a public holiday held to mark the region’s saint’s day. Local officials canceled festivities planned for Wednesday night and Thursday across Galicia.
Train’s speed questioned
The state railway, Renfe, said the train crashed on a curve several kilometers from the train station in the city of Santiago de Compostela, a popular tourist destination.
The train was nearing the end of a six-hour trip from Madrid to the town of Ferrol in northwest Spain when it derailed at 8:41 p.m. Wednesday, the railway said.
It was unclear how fast the train was traveling when it crashed. It was capable of going up to 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph), said Julio Hermida, a spokesman for the state railway.
The driver, who suffered minor injuries, told police the train had entered the bend too fast, TVE reported.
The driver has worked for the company for the last 30 years, a spokesman for the railway confirmed to CNN. In 2000, the driver started working as a train driver assistant, and in 2003 began working as a train driver, a job the driver has held since.
Rafael Catala, secretary of state for transport and housing, told Spanish radio network Cadena SER that the “tragedy appears to be linked to the train going too fast,” but that the reasons for that are not yet known.
Spanish news agency Efe and national daily El Pais cited sources within the investigation as saying that the driver had said the train was going at about 190 kilometers per hour, and that the limit on that curve was 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph.)
The president of Renfe, Julio Gomez-Pomar, told radio station COPE on Thursday that the train had undergone a routine inspection that same morning.
“The train did not have an operating problem,” he said. “The maintenance and control record of the train was perfect.”
Spain’s King Juan Carlos visited a hospital in Santiago de Compostela where victims injured in Wednesday’s train accident are recovering.
“All Spaniards, we are united at this time. … Really all Spaniards join in the pain of the families of the dead,” he said. “We hope that the wounded will recover, little by little.”
The royal family canceled all events scheduled for the day out of respect for the day of mourning, the royal household told CNN.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo, head of the regional government in Galicia, declared seven days of mourning in the region for victims of the tragedy.
In a speech, he said “all of the community cries about the tragedy that we are living, we cry for the victims, we cry for the unease and sadness of the families.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy viewed the scene of devastation Thursday morning and visited some of the hospitalized crash victims.
Rajoy, who is from the area, told a news conference there was a “huge challenge” ahead, not least in identifying all those killed and informing their families, and he praised the response of everyone who has helped after the crash.
Two investigations are under way, he said, adding, “We want to establish what happened.”
Rajoy declared three days of national mourning to honor the victims of the crash.
The prime minister came under fire in Spanish media after a condolences message for the train crash victims posted by his office late Wednesday included a paragraph apparently “copied and pasted” from a statement previously sent to victims of an earthquake in Gansu, China.
”I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of human lives and the material damage from the earthquake that has occurred in Gansu has caused,” the note said.
Victim: ‘Everything went dark’
One victim, speaking from a hospital bed with his arm in a sling, told CNN affiliate Atlas that it seemed like train was going fast.
“But we didn’t know what was the maximum speed, so I thought it was normal,” he said, “And suddenly there was a curve, the suitcases fell, and everything went dark. And I hit my head a ton of times, and 10 seconds later I was wedged between seats, and I had people’s legs on top of me.”
As he waited for rescuers to pull him from the wreckage, he heard other passengers yelling.
“I heard little children screaming. … I also heard two girls that yelled out, one supporting the other,” he said.
A passenger who got off at the last stop before the train derailed told the broadcaster it was packed with people at the time.
Residents who lived near the tracks told the Voz de Galicia newspaper that they heard a thunderous bang when the train crashed. Many of them rushed to the area with blankets and bottled water for the injured, the newspaper reported.
“The train had broken in half. Some pieces were on top, some pieces were on the bottom,” said Ivette Rubiera Cabrera of Florida, who caught a glimpse of the wreckage while on a family vacation in Spain and sent photos to CNN’s iReport.
“It was quite shocking,” she said. “We had never seen anything like that. We had just been on the train last week.”
Oscar Mateos told the El Pais newspaper that he saw fellow passengers thrown to the floor, then tossed from one side of the train to the other.
“Help came in five minutes, but that time became an eternity,” he said. “I helped people get out with broken legs and many bruises.”
Investigators are looking at all possible causes of the crash, a senior aide to the prime minister said Wednesday.
Are you there and safe? Tell us what’s happening
Renfe’s spokesman said he did not know how many crew members were aboard the train when it crashed. Normally, there would be at least five crew members on a train like that, he said.
Officials appealed for blood donations just after the crash but on Thursday said the short-term needs were met.
Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, expressed condolences from the European Union.
Pope Francis, who is on a visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, sent a telegram to the bishop of Santiago de Compostela, Julian Barrio Barrio, offering his support and prayers for all those affected by the tragedy.
Driver in deadly Spain train crash under scrutiny
A Spanish train that hurtled off the rails and smashed into a security wall as it rounded a bend was going so fast that carriages tumbled off the tracks like dominos, killing 80 people, including an American, and maiming dozens more.
Spain’s government said two probes have been launched into the train’s derailment Wednesday night on its approach to this Christian festival city in northwest Spain, where planned celebrations in honor of one of Jesus’ disciples gave way to a living nightmare.
The regional government in Galicia confirmed that police planned to question the 52-year-old train driver, in Santiago de Compostela’s main hospital with unspecified injuries, as both a witness and as a possible suspect, but cautioned that possible faults in safety equipment were also being investigated.
Spain’s lead investigator in the crash, Judge Vazquez TaDin, ordered detectives to question the train driver.
Renfe identified him as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, as a 30-year employee of the state rail company who became an assistant driver in 2000 and a fully qualified driver in 2003. The company said Amo took control of the train from a second driver about 65 miles south of Santiago de Compostela.
CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reported Amo had bragged last year on the internet about running his train right at the speed limit, saying any faster and he’d be fined.
Renfe’s president, Julio Gomez-Pomar Rodriguez, told Spain’s Cadena Cope radio network that the driver had worked on that route for more than one year.
An Associated Press analysis of images from video footage obtained Thursday suggested the train may have been traveling at twice the speed limit, or more, along that curved stretch of track. Spanish officials said the speed limit on that section of track is 50 miles per hour.
An Associated Press estimate of the train’s speed at the moment of impact using the time stamp of the video and the estimated distance between two pylons gives a range of 89-119 mph. Another estimate calculated on the basis of the typical distance between railroad ties gives a range of 96-112 mph.
The video footage, which the Spanish railway authority Adif said probably came from one of its cameras, shows the train carriages starting to buckle soon into the turn.
The cause of the crash seems to have been a deadly combination of high speed and low budgets, Phillips reports. In order to save money when updating the line between Madrid and the northwest coastal town of El Ferrol, the Spanish rail authority opted to use the existing right of way through Santiago de Compostela.
Murray Hughes, consultant editor of Railway Gazette International, said it appeared that a diesel-powered unit behind the lead locomotive was the first to derail. The front engine itself quickly followed, violently tipping on to its right side as it crashed into a concrete security wall and bulldozed along the ground.
In the background, all the rear carriages could be seen starting to decouple and come off the tracks. The picture went blank as the engine appeared to crash directly into the camera.
After impact, witnesses said a fire engulfed passengers trapped in at least one carriage, most likely driven by ruptured tanks of diesel fuel carried in the forward engines.
“I saw the train coming out of the bend at great speed and then there was a big noise,” one eyewitness who lives beside the train line, Consuelo Domingues, told The Associated Press. “… Then everybody tried to get out of the train.”
The Interior Ministry raised the death toll to 80 in what was Spain’s deadliest train wreck in four decades. The Galician government said 94 others remained hospitalized in six regional hospitals, 31 of them — including four children — in critical condition.
A State Department official confirmed to CBS News Thursday afternoon that one U.S. citizen died and five other Americans were injured in Wednesday’s crash. The official provided no other details except to say that those numbers might change with new information.
“Today the American people grieve with our Spanish friends, who are in our thoughts and prayers,” President Obama said in a statement.
One American survivor has sent a message from a hospital saying he’s OK, CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reported on “CBS This Morning” Thursday.
Another, however, was not so lucky. Roberto Fariza of Houston, Texas, said his wife was in critical condition. They were both passengers on the train.
“She got hurt very bad her scalp was all like that — flipped over — and she was bleeding out of her mouth and out of her ears, and she was conscious though…she knew what happened,” Fariza said of his wife on “CBS Evening News”.
In the morning, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a native of Santiago de Compostela, toured the crash scene alongside rescue workers and went to a nearby hospital to visit those wounded and their families. In the evening Spain’s head of state, King Carlos, and Queen Sofia went to the same hospital, dressed in funereal black.
“For a native of Santiago, like me, this is the saddest day,” said Rajoy, who declared Spain would observe a three-day period of mourning. He said judicial authorities and the Public Works Ministry had launched parallel investigations into what caused the crash.
Santiago officials had been preparing for the city’s internationally celebrated Catholic festival Thursday but canceled it and took control of the city’s main indoor sports arena to use as a makeshift morgue. There, relatives of the dead could be seen sobbing and embracing each other.
The Interior Ministry, responsible for law and order, ruled out terrorism as a cause.
While sections of the Spanish press pointed an accusatory finger at the train driver, Spanish authorities and railway safety experts cautioned that a fault in systems designed to keep trains traveling at safe speeds could be to blame.
It was Spain’s deadliest train accident since 1972, when a train collided with a bus in southwest Spain, killing 86 people and injuring 112.
“July 24 will no longer be the eve of a day of celebration but rather one commemorating one of the saddest days in the history of Galicia,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, regional president of Galicia. Santiago de Compostela is its capital.
The accident created a scene that was “Dante-esque,” Feijoo said. He said Galicia would observe seven days of mourning.
Rescue workers spent the night searching through smashed carriages alongside the tracks.
As dawn broke, cranes brought to the scene were used to lift the carriages away from the tracks. Rescue workers collected passengers’ scattered luggage and loaded it into a truck next to the tracks.
Rescuers described a scene of horror immediately after the crash. Smoke billowed from at least one carriage that had caught fire, while another had been torn into two parts.
Residents of the residential neighborhood closest to the rail line struggled to help victims out of the toppled cars. Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows. Television images showed one man atop a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window. Other rescuers used rocks to try to free survivors from the fiery wreckage.
Nearby, rescue workers lined up bodies covered in blankets alongside the tracks.
Renfe said the crash happened at 8:41 p.m. (2:41 p.m. ET) about 2.5 miles south of Santiago de Compostela.
Renfe said it and Adif, which manages tracks, signals and other railway infrastructure, were cooperating with a judge appointed to investigate the accident.
It was the world’s third major rail accident this month.
On July 12, six people were killed and nearly 200 were injured when four cars of a passenger train derailed south of Paris.
On July 6, 72 cars carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Ontario, setting off explosions and fires that killed 47 people.
Catholic pilgrims converge on Santiago de Compostela annually to celebrate a festival honoring St. James, a disciple of Jesus whose remains are said to rest in a shrine. The city is the main gathering point for those who reach the end of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that has drawn Christians since the Middle Ages.
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