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Death toll in Spain train crash rises to 35


08:28, July 25, 2013

MADRID, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Up to 35 people have died and around 100 injured after a train derailed just outside the city of Santiago de Compostela in the region of Galicia in north-western Spain on Wednesday evening.

Spanish television network RTVE quotes sources from the investigation as saying 35 people have lost their lives in the disaster, which occurred at the junction of A Grandeira at 20:42 local time, three kilometers south of Santiago.

Meanwhile huge numbers of emergency services are at the scene in order to help the injured, along with a crane to help free those trapped in the wreckage.

The train, which was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol, derailed on a bend shortly after coming out of a tunnel. The cause of the crash is not yet known but some survivors have said the train appeared to be travelling at an excessively high speed.

There are also unconfirmed reports saying that there was an explosion on board just as the train entered the curve, although some said that was merely the result of the impact following the crash.

And the Spanish minister of interior has ruled out a terrorist attack.

The derailment occurred on a track that has recently been constructed in order to take the AVE high-speed train, although the derailed train is an ALVIA, a slower train than the AVE, which is capable of reaching speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour.

At least 13 carriages came off the rails with several lying on the side of an embankment with several of them catching fire. Reports said that several of the carriages literally flew through the air.

One of the motors of the engine was thrown out by the force of the impact while the engine itself is on fire by the side of track.

The engine was a model S130H/ S730 diesel-electric hybrid and is one of the most modern in the fleet of the Spanish railway company RENFE. The model has been only introduced into service in 2012 and has a maximum speed of 180 kilometers per hour.

Around 240 people were thought to have been travelling on the train, which was especially full because Thursday is the holiday of St John in Santiago, the patron saint of the region of Galicia and the start of a four-day weekend in the region.

The local authority in Santiago has announced that it has cancelled the celebrations which were due to be held over the coming days as a result of the tragedy to show respects for the victims.

The first event to be cancelled is the traditional firework display due to be held in the Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile the University Hospital at Santiago has made an appeal for blood donors to help the victims of the crash.

The mayor of Santiago Angel Curras and the president of the Galician regional government Alberto Nunez Feijoo began to arrive at the site around 22:00 local time, while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Galicia, is said to be following developments closely and will travel to the accident site on Thursday.

It is the worst train accident Spain has suffered in the past 40 years, with a higher number of victims than the head-on collision in Chincilla (Albacete), which claimed 19 lives in 2003.

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