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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

World

Spain train crash: Driver to be questioned
Agencies
Santiago De Compostela, July 26, 2013
First Published: 13:40 IST(26/7/2013)
Last Updated: 13:43 IST(26/7/2013)

The police will be questioning the driver of a Spanish train that derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday, killing at least 80 people, amid allegations that the accident was caused due to excessive speeding. The driver is under police guard in hospital on Friday.

The eight-carriage train came off the tracks, hit a wall and caught fire just outside the pilgrimage destination Santiago de Compostela. It was one of Europe's worst rail disasters.

Investigators started a probe on Thursday about the role of the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon, in the crash and possible faults in the train's in-built speed-regulation systems.

Experts said one, or both, must be at fault for the disastrous crash of the train that was carrying 218 passengers and five crew members to Santiago de Compostela to celebrate its most revered saint, St James.

Instead, the stunned city of nearly 100,000 converted its sports arena into a shelter for the dead and the grieving.

The regional government of Galicia, in northwest Spain, said 94 people remained hospitalised, 31 of them in critical condition, including four children.

According to reports, one of the operators of the Spanish train had posted photos of the train’s speedometer on Facebook and bragged about it going too fast before the fatal accident. The screenshot of the train’s speedometer was reading 200 km/h.

While accusatory fingers were being pointed at the train driver, government officials and railway experts cautioned that a fault in systems designed to keep trains at safe speeds could be to blame.

Jose Antonio Santamera, president of Spain's College of Civil Engineering, said one of the train's supposedly fail-safe mechanisms could have failed.

"The security system will detect any fault of the driver and then starts the train's security systems. So I almost rule out human error," Santamera said.


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