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Toll in Spain train crash rises to 60

Toll in Spain train crash rises to 60

Madrid: At least 60 people have been killed and around 125 injured after a train derailed outside the city of Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of Spain Wednesday evening.

This is only a provisional figure and could rise further, a government spokesperson said Thursday, Xinhua reported.

Families of the victims have arrived at the scene of the accident, waiting for further information.

Theresia Marin, a psychologist, said she passed by the site in the evening when the derailment happened. After hearing about the accident, she offered psychological help to the injured and victims' families at a temporary shelter.

Rescue operations are underway at the site, she said.

Earlier, the number of victims was estimated at under 50.

"The priority is to help the injured and their families at the moment. We are working with enormous logistical capacity, but we cannot sadly save the lives of those 45-47 people, which is the number of deaths we are currently working with," said the president of the Galician regional government, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, on Spanish television hours after the accident.

The train, which was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol and left the Chamartin Station in the capital at 3 p.m., derailed on a bend shortly after coming out of a tunnel.

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.

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.

Both of the train's drivers have survived the accident and will be able to help resolve the cause of the disaster. But for the moment, the cause of the crash is not known.

Early indications are that it could be the result of human error, while some survivors have said the train appeared to be travelling at a high speed on a curve with a speed limit of just 80 km an hour.

Investigators have indicated the train could have been travelling at 180 km per hour when it came off the rails. One of the drivers was reported to have confirmed the train took the curve prior to the accident at a speed of 200 km per hour.

The bend where the accident happened is reported to be the tightest between the cities of Ourense and Santiago and was described as a "difficult section" of the track by the ADIF, the company which administers the infrastructure of Spain's railways.

There are also unconfirmed reports of an explosion on board, just as the train entered the curve. The Spanish minister of the interior has, however, ruled out a terrorist attack.

There were 218 passengers plus crew aboard 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 University Hospital at Santiago appealed for blood donors to help the victims of the crash and such was the response that all centres in the city were saturated with donors by 11.30 p.m.

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

The country's worst ever rail accident happened in Jan 1944 on a train between Madrid and La Coruna with estimates of victims ranging from the official figure of 78 to over 500 dead.

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