The moment Spanish passenger train hurtled off the tracks and smashed into a wall, killing at least 80 people, has been captured in a terrifying video.
All eight carriages of the Madrid to Ferrol train derailed near the city of Santiago de Compostela last night, leaving at least 140 people injured.
Dramatic video footage from a security camera shows the train careering into a concrete wall as it came off the rails on the bend, before flipping onto its side and hurtling down the railway line with its terrified passengers on board.
One of the drivers was trapped in his cabin and told the railway station by radio that the train entered the bend at 190 km/h (120 mph), reported newspaper El Pais.
The speed limit on that section of track is 80km/h.
“We’re only human! We’re only human!” he told the station, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the investigation.
“I hope there are no dead, because this will fall on my conscience.”
The moment Spanish passenger train hurtled off the tracks and smashed into a wall, killing at least 80 people
Police have put an unnamed train driver under formal investigation – the Galicia government said one driver was in hospital.
Newspaper reports cited witnesses as saying driver Francisco Jose Garzon, who helped rescue victims, had shouted: “I’ve derailed! What do I do?” into a phone.
The accident is the worst train accident in 30 years and television footage showed one wagon pointing upwards into the air with one of its ends twisted and disfigured.
Another carriage that had been severed in two could be seen lying on a road near the track.
State-owned train operator Renfe said in a statement that 218 passengers and an unspecified number of staff were on board at the time of the accident.
Renfe said the derailment happened at 8.41 p.m. local time on a high-speed section that was inaugurated two years ago.
After the crash, bodies were seen covered in blankets next to the tracks and rescue workers tried to get trapped people out of the train’s carriages, with smoke billowing from some of the wreckage.
Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows, and one man stood on a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window.
TVE showed footage of what appeared to be several bodies covered by blankets alongside the tracks next to the damaged train wagons and rescue workers entering toppled carriages through broken windows.
The crash happened about an hour before sunset after the train emerged from a tunnel and derailed on the curve – sending cars flying off the tracks.
As casualties were taken to hospitals in Santiago and two other cities in the region, authorities appealed for people to donate blood.
Neighbors responded to calls from the police to bring blankets and sheets to the scene along with bottles of water.
At least 77 people died and more than 100 are injured following train derailment near Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain, officials in the Galicia region say.
All eight carriages of the Madrid to Ferrol train carrying 218 passengers came off the tracks near the city of Santiago de Compostela.
Media reports say the train may have been travelling at more than twice the speed limit around a curve.
Officials have not commented on the cause. Analysts say it is the worst train accident in Spain in 40 years.
Spain generally has a relatively good record in terms of rail safety.
This is a country which has invested huge amounts of money in its rail network.
Spain’s last major rail disaster was in 1972 when 77 people were killed in a derailment in Andalusia in the south.
Railway firm Renfe said the train came off the tracks on a bend about 2-2.5 miles from Santiago de Compostela station at 20:41 local time.
It was on the express route between Madrid and the ship-building city of Ferrol on the Galician coast.
Renfe says it and the track operating company Adif are collaborating with a judge appointed to investigate the accident.
At least 77 people died and more than 100 are injured following train derailment near Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain
Government officials said they believed the crash was an accident, but that no statement would be made regarding the cause without a proper investigation.
“We are moving away from the hypothesis of sabotage or attack,” one unnamed official said.
Rescue workers have continued to search for survivors in the wreckage.
They have so far recovered 73 bodies from the accident site, while four more people died in hospital, a spokeswoman for Galicia’s supreme court said on Thursday. Judges are responsible for registering deaths in Spain.
It is not known how many Renfe employees were on board the train.
Images from the site showed bodies covered with blankets next to the tracks, as emergency crews searched the wreckage.
More than 140 passengers were receiving treatment for a range of light to more serious injuries, a health official told reporters on Thursday morning.
Residents flocked to hospitals in the area to donate blood in response to an appeal.
Meanwhile, 320 Spanish police officers were deployed to help out the rescue operation.
The leader of the regional government Alberto Nunez Feijoo described it as “a Dante-esque scene”, in comments to Radio Cadena Ser.
One witness, Ricardo Montesco, described how the train carriages “piled on top of one another” after the train hit a curve.
“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 told Spanish Cadena Ser radio station.
Several eyewitnesses described the train travelling very fast before it derailed.
The derailment happened on the eve of Santiago de Compostela’s main annual festival where thousands of Christian pilgrims were expected to flock to the city in honor of Saint James.
The city’s tourism board said all festivities planned for Thursday have been cancelled.
Local journalist Francisco Camino said the region was in shock.
“This is a tiny place and nothing happens here, nothing important or tragic,” he said.
“We were preparing for the celebrations and now this could turn out to be the worst train crash in many years.”
PM Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, convened an emergency ministerial meeting late on Wednesday. He is due to visit the scene of the accident on Thursday.
“I want to express my affection and solidarity with the victims of the terrible train accident in Santiago,” Mariano Rajoy said.