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Europe

Train crash driver formally detained, Spanish police say

© AFP

Video by FRANCE 24 , FRANCE 2

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-26

The driver of a train that flew off the tracks late Wednesday in a crash that killed at least 80 people has been formally detained, Spanish police said Friday. Spanish media earlier reported that the driver had boasted about high speeds on Facebook.

The driver of a Spanish train that flew off the tracks late Wednesday in a crash that killed at least 80 people has been formally detained, police said Friday.

"He has been detained since 8pm [Thursday]. He is accused of crimes related to the accident," said Jaime Iglesias, the chief of police in the northwestern region of Galicia.

Spanish newspaper "El Pais" reported Friday that the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was unable to brake in time. Other media have reported that Garzon had boasted about driving at high speeds on Facebook.

The accident happened Wednesday evening as the train entered a sharp curve known as "A Gandeira" about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from the station in the northern city of Santiago de Compostela.

Dramatic video footage from a security camera showed the train slamming into a concrete wall at the side of the track as the engine overturned, piling carriages on top of each other in a smouldering wreckage of mangled steel.

The train was reportedly travelling at twice the legal limit on a section of high-speed track that has a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).

"The railway warning systems detected that Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, the driver of the Alvia train that departed Madrid, was travelling at 190 kilometres an hour when it should not exceed 80," wrote "El Pais".

"The driver acknowledged that the alarm went off in the control panel, and he tried to brake but was not able to avert the tragedy," the newspaper added.

"El Pais" quoted the driver immediately after the crash as saying that he knew he had been speeding at the time of the derailment.

"I hope no one died because it will fall on my conscience," he reportedly told supervisors over the radio, while still trapped inside the cab after the eight-carriage train derailed.

Spain's state rail company Renfe said Garzon, who sustained only light injuries in the accident, had more than a decade of train driving experience.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2013-07-26

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