The tragic derailment of a speeding passenger train in Spain yesterday has now killed at least 78 people, with more than a hundred others hurt and many still in critical condition. The train, which was traveling from Madrid to Ferrol, left the tracks on a curve just outside the stop at Santiago de Compostela, and reports say it may have been travelling at more than twice the normal speed when it left the tracks.
Firefighters and other rescues described a grisly scene that looked like "hell," with train cars torn in half and dozens of people trapped under burning wreckage.
Officials with the railway say the train itself had a "perfect" maintenance record and had even passed inspection on Wednesday morning. If true that would suggest human error was the cause of the crash, a theory supported by other media reports. The newspaper El Pais quoted one of the train's drivers, who was initially trapped in the wreckage, as saying that the train was traveling 190 kilometers per hour (about 118 miles per hour) as it rounded a curve just a few miles shy of the station. The normal speed limit on that part of the track is just 80 km/h.
Because the train was so close to its next stop, there's also speculation that many of the passengers were getting out of their seats, preparing to disembark, which may have contributed to the high number of injuries and deaths.