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A SECURITY camera has captured the moment when a Spanish train crashes into a wall, as one of the drivers admits to speeding.
The train flew off the tracks as it reportedly tore at twice the speed limit around a bend in northwestern Spain, killing at least 80 passengers and injuring more than 140 in the nation's deadliest rail disaster since 1944.
The footage shows the train rounding a bend, making a turn to the left underneath a road overpass.
The train's first carriage behind the locomotive appears to come off the tracks first, slamming the tail of the locomotive into a concrete wall.
All the carriages can be seen starting to come off the tracks as the locomotive hurtles toward the camera position.
The security camera footage appears to stop at the moment that the engine crashes into it.
The speed limit on that section of track is 80km/h. An AP analysis of video images suggests that the train may have been travelling at twice the speed limit.
This combo image from security camera video shows a train derailing in Santiago de Compostela, killing at least 78 people. The driver has reportedly admitted to speeding, saying the deaths would weigh on his conscience. Picture: AP
Estimating the train's speed at the moment of impact using the frame rate of the video and the estimated distance between two pylons gives a range of 144-192 km/h. Another estimate calculated on the basis of the typical distance between railroad ties gives a range of 156-182 km/h.
One of the drivers who became trapped in the cab after the accident told railway officials by radio shortly after the crash that the train had taken the bend at 190km/h an hour, unidentified investigation sources told El Pais newspaper.
"I hope no one died because it will weigh on my conscience," he said, according to the paper's online edition.
One of the drivers had previously boasted of speeding on his Facebook page, according to reports.
Francisco Jose Garzon, 52, is reported to have posted a picture on the site of a train speedometer at 190km/h last year.
According to reports he also boasted about how fast he was going. The webpage has disappeared after images appeared on Spanish TV and newspaper websites.
A fireman carries an injured young girl from the wreckage. Picture: AFP
Carriages piled into each other and overturned in Wednesday's crash, smoke billowing from the wreckage of mangled steel and smashed windows as bodies were laid out under blankets along the tracks.
Spain's government said two probes have been launched into the cause of the crash, as the Interior Ministry raised the death toll to 80, while 95 remained hospitalised, 36 in critical condition, among them four children.
State railway company Renfe said it was too early to determine the cause but several media outlets and eyewitnesses said the train carrying 218 passengers and four crew was speeding.
The train came off the tracks on a curve on Wednesday at 8.42 pm (4.42am AEST on Thursday) as it was about to enter Santiago de Compostela station in the northwestern region of Galicia.
The video footage, which the Spanish railway authority Adif said probably came from one of its cameras, shows the train carriages start to buckle soon into the turn.
Murray Hughes, consultant editor of Railway Gazette International, said it appeared that a diesel-powered unit behind the lead locomotive was the first to derail. The front engine itself quickly followed, violently tipping on to its right side as it crashes into a concrete security wall and bulldozes along the ground.
Two men comfort an injured woman next to a derailed car following the horrifice train accident. The death toll has risen to 80 people, with 95 still in hospital. Picture: AFP
In the background, all the rear carriages can be seen starting to decouple and come off the tracks. The picture goes blank as the engine appears to crash directly into the camera.
After impact, witnesses said a fire which engulfed passengers trapped in at least one carriage most likely from the diesel fuel carried in the locomotive units.
"I saw the train coming out of the bend at great speed and then there was a big noise,'' said one eyewitness who lives beside the train line, Consuelo Domingues. ''Then everybody tried to get out of the train.''
The eight carriages derailed on a stretch of high-speed track about 4km from the station in the city, the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage which has been followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.
The train was the Alvia model which is able to adapt between high-speed and normal tracks. It had left Madrid and was heading for the coastal shipbuilding town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a native of Santiago de Compostela, visited the scene of the accident on Thursday and declared three days of mourning.
Emergency personnel respond to the scene of the horrific train derailment in Santiago de Compostela. Spain has declared three days of mourning after the crash killed at least 80 people and injured more than 140. Picture: AP
King Juan Carlos and Crown Prince Felipe called off their public engagements out of respect for the victims.
Rescue workers spent the night searching through smashed carriages alongside the tracks.
As dawn broke, cranes brought to the scene were used to lift the carriages away from the tracks. Rescue workers collected passengers' scattered luggage and loaded it into a truck next to the tracks.
Rescuers described a scene of horror immediately after the crash. Smoke billowed from at least one carriage that had caught fire, while another had been torn into two parts.
Residents of the residential neighbourhood closest to the rail line struggled to help victims out of the toppled cars. Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows. Television images showed one man atop a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window. Other rescuers used rocks to try to free survivors from the fiery wreckage.
Nearby, rescue workers lined up bodies covered in blankets alongside the tracks.
Relatives of passengers involved in the train crash comfort each other as they wait for news in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The driver has reportedly admitted to speeding, saying the train was going 190km/h in an 80km/h stretch of track. Picture: Getty
Several witnesses spoke of a loud explosion at the time of the crash.
"I was at home and I heard something like a clap of thunder, It was very loud and there was lots of smoke," said 62-year-old Maria Teresa Ramos, who lives just metres from the site.
"It's a disaster, people are crying out. Nobody has ever seen anything like this," she added.
Rescue workers recovered 73 bodies from the wreckage and four more victims died later in hospital, a spokesman for the Galicia high court said.
It is the worst rail accident in Spain since 1944, when hundreds were killed in a train collision, also between Madrid and Galicia.
Renfe said the train had no technical problems and had just passed an inspection on the morning of the accident, adding that the cause was unknown.
Rescuers tend to a victim next to a derailed car. Picture: AFP
"We will know what the speed is very soon when we consult the train's black box," a Renfe spokesman said.
Mr Rajoy said two investigations were being carried out, one a judicial probe and the other led by the Investigation Comission for Rail Accidents, which will be overseen by the transport ministry.
"The objective is that we will know as soon as possible what were the causes of this accident," he said.
Francisco Otero, 39, who was inside his parents' home just beside the section of the track where the accident happened, said he "heard a huge bang".
"The first thing I saw was the body of a woman. I had never seen a corpse before. But above all what caught my attention was that there was a lot of silence, some smoke and a small fire," he said.
"My neighbours tried to pull out people who were trapped inside the carriages with the help of pickaxes and sledgehammers and they eventually got them out with a hand saw. It was unreal," he told AFP.
Rescuers tend to victims next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Picture: AFP
The twisted, gutted shells of the white train carriages lay near a bend in the track on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela. One was rammed into a concrete siding, another snapped like a branch over the top of a third. Bits of twisted metal from a fourth were scattered nearby.
The images of the wrecked carriages stirred memories of the 2004 Madrid train bombings by Islamic extremists which killed 191 people.
The town hall of Santiago de Compostela called off concerts and firework displays that had been planned as part of the festivities in honour of its patron saint.
Hundreds of local residents and tourists attended a nearly two-hour mass in the city's imposing cathedral to pray for the victims.
Pope Francis called for prayers, while France, Poland, Italy and the European Union sent their condolences.
The accident is the third large rail disaster this month after six people died in a passenger train derailment near Paris on July 12, and 47 were killed when an oil train derailed and exploded in Canada on July 6.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (centre) walks with Spain's Public Works Minister Ana Pastor, right and the President of Galicia Alberto Nunez Feijoo, second from left at crash scene. Rajoy declared three days mourning after 80 were kileld in the high-speed derailment. (AP Photo/Emilio Lavandeira)
Earlier, public television TVE said the train may have derailed because it was speeding at the time, but a spokesman for state railway company Renfe said it was too soon to say what caused the accident.
"Deadly High Speed" the El Mundo daily's headline ran. The paper reported that the train had been travelling at 220km/h in an urban zone with a speed limit of 80km/h. The El Pais suggested the train was travelling at 180km/h.
"There are bodies laying on the railway track. It's a Dante-esque scene," Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the regional government, told news radio Cadena Ser.
Several injured passengers said they felt a strong vibration just before the cars jumped the tracks, according to Xabier Martinez, a photographer who talked with them after arriving at the scene as rescue workers were still removing bodies.
One passenger, Ricardo Montero, told the Cadena Ser radio station that "when the train reached that bend it began to flip over, many times, with some carriages ending up on top of others, leaving many people trapped below. We had to get under the carriages to get out.''
Another passenger, Sergio Prego, told Cadena Ser the train "travelled very fast'' just before it derailed and the cars flipped upside down, on their sides and into the air.
A derailed train car is lifted by a crane at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela. (AP Photo/Lalo Villar)
"I've been very lucky because I'm one of the few able to walk out,'' MrPrego said.
It was the world's third major rail accident this month.
On July 12, six people were killed and nearly 200 were injured when four cars of a passenger train derailed south of Paris. On July 6, 72 cars carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Ontario, setting off explosions and fires that killed 47 people.
Other major train crashes in Spain include a 1944 accident involving three trains that crashed in a tunnel. That disaster produced wildly disputed death tolls ranging from the government's official count of 78 to more than 500, according to later research
In 2006, 43 people died when a subway train crashed because of excessive speed in the southern city of Valencia. In 2004, 191 died when al-Qaida-inspired terrorists detonated 10 bombs on four Madrid commuter trains.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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