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Spanish Passenger Train Derails, Killing 80 People

A passenger train bound for Santiago de Compostela, Spain bounced against a curved wall and raced off the track, killing 80 on board.

One of Europe’s worst rail accidents in recent years, footage from a security camera show the train speeding, linked with the driver who boasted on his Facebook about breaking speed records. Emergency workers were still picking through debris Thursday.

The driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, with more than three decades of experience, survived the wreck with light injuries and is now under investigation. Spanish news media reported that the driver has said the train’s speed has been 190 kilometers per hour, more than double the speed limit.

The accident occurred roughly two to three miles outside the station in the “transition zone” where the tracks are not monitored by a sophisticated GPS- system that automatically brakes trains at speed limits.

The eight-car train, operated by rail operator Renfe, left Madrid at 3 pm Wednesday and derailed at 8:14pm. Cranes have since started to lift the wreckage off the tracks as rescue workers try to ensure that all passengers have been accounted for.

The train was carrying 218 passengers at the time, many returning to the region for a special holiday on July 25. Since the crash, Santiago de Compostela cancelled its extensive celebration and people are donating blood for the victims.

The injured included at least six Americans.

The accident was Spain’s worst train crash since 1972, when 86 people were killed.

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Source: The New York Times, “Spanish Train Inquiry Looks at a Driver Obsessed With Speed,” July 25, 2013

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