MADRID — A passenger train derailed on a high-speed stretch of track in northwestern Spain last night, killing at least 35 people and leaving dozens injured in the country’s worst rail accident in decades, officials said.
Officials gave different death tolls in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the region of Galicia, said at least 35 people aboard the train were killed.
Spain’s leading Cadena SER radio station cited the president of the Galicia’s main court, Miguel Angel Cadenas, at the scene saying 56 people were killed, but that could not be independently confirmed. The station said three carriages still had to be inspected by rescue workers.
State-owned train operator Renfe said in a statement that 218 passengers and an unspecified number of staff were on board at the time of the accident. Renfe, which did not give a death or injury toll, said the derailment happened at 8.41 p.m. along a high-speed section that had been inaugurated just two years ago.
The SER radio station cited unnamed local government officials as saying 100 people were injured, but there were no details on the severity of the injuries.
Feast day festivities planned in the city of Santiago de Compostela, outside of which the train derailed, were canceled, town hall spokeswoman Maria Pardo told Spanish National television TVE.
Sergio Prego, a passenger on the train, told the SER, “The train was going at a very fast speed, and in the curve, it went off the tracks; it overturned. We were the lucky ones that were able to get out on our own feet.
“Victims? For sure. I have no idea but there must be an awful lot,” he said.
A photographer at the scene said he saw dozens of what appeared to be dead bodies being extracted from the wreck by emergency workers. TVE showed footage of what appeared to be several bodies covered by blankets alongside the tracks next to the damaged train wagons and rescue workers entering toppled carriages through broken windows.