Police detain driver in Spain train disaster; toll rises to 78

Santiago de Compostela (S, PTI | Updated : 27 July 2013, 10:24 AM

Spanish police on Friday said they have detained the driver of a speeding train that crashed in the nation's deadliest rail disaster in decades, accusing him of criminal recklessness. 

The country was in mourning over Wednesday's horrific tragedy, which police said had killed 78 people including foreigners and left many more injured. 

The 52-year-old driver faces criminal accusations including "recklessness" over the crash near the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, said Jaime Iglesias, police chief in the northwestern Galicia region. 

The grey-haired driver, who reportedly boasted of his love for speed online, was detained Thursday in hospital where he had been under police surveillance, Iglesias told a news conference. 

A Spanish judge had ordered police to question the man, identified as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo in local media which published photographs of him with blood covering the right side of his face. 

He has not been charged with a crime and has yet to be quizzed by police about the tragedy.

 Spain's leading El Pais newspaper said the driver of the train -- which was carrying over 200 passengers and crew -- had been unable to brake in time. 

Seventy-eight passengers perished, six of whom have yet to be identified, according to a revised police toll. 

Four foreigners are among the dead -- an American, an Algerian, a Mexican and a French national, local officials said. 

Iglesias said forensic police were working with "mangled bodies" some of which were difficult to identify because of their injuries. 

The crash also injured more than 100 people, a number of whom remain in serious condition in hospital including three children, Galicia health services said. 

Most of the injured are Spanish but at least eight were foreigners from Argentina, Britain, Colombia, the United States and Peru. 

A dramatic 10-second video from a railway security camera appears to show the train rocketing around a curve, slamming into a concrete wall at the side of the track as the engine overturned. 

Carriages piled on top of each other in a smouldering wreckage of mangled steel, with one carriage flying into the air before coming to a rest on top of a six-metre siding.

First Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 10:23 AM
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