Connect to share and comment
Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, the driver of the Spanish train that derailed outside Santiago de Compostela, has been detained by police amid allegations that the train was speeding when it crashed.
Spanish police have detained the driver of the train that derailed Wednesday in the country's northwest, amid reports the deadly crash was caused by excessive speed.
At least 78 people died in the incident. Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, who sustained injuries, remains in hospital but has been placed under police guard, officials said Friday.
As soon as he is well enough, he will be questioned "as a suspect for a crime linked to the cause of the accident," the BBC quoted regional police chief Jaime Iglesias as saying.
Garzon will face criminal accusations including "recklessness" over the crash.
The Telegraph cited excerpts from Garzon’s Facebook page, published by Spanish media. In one posting, posted beneath a photograph of a train's speedometer clocking 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour), he was alleged to have written:
"It would be amazing to go alongside police and overtake them and trigger off the speed camera... Ha ha ha, That would be a lovely fine for Renfe [Spain's state-owned train company]."
The eight-carriage train Garzon was driving, which operator Renfe said had a "perfect" maintenance record, came off the tracks, hit a wall and caught fire just outside the city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday night.
Reuters cited Renfe as saying that Garzon, 52, had more than a decade of train driving experience and a year on this particular line.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 26, 2013
The cause of the accident has not been declared. However, media reports cited witnesses and experts as saying that the train was traveling well in excess of the 50 mph speed limit — possibly as fast as 120 mph — when it crashed.
Footage captured by a security camera shows the train crashing as it appears to hurtle around a bend.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Santiago de Compostela himself, has declared three days of national mourning following the crash, one of Europe's worst rail disasters.
King Juan Carlos, meantime, visited the injured in hospital, the BBC reported. Joined by Queen Sofia, he said:
"All Spaniards are feeling the pain of the families and hope the injured recover. We are united."
Local officials said four foreigners were among those killed in the crash — an American, a Mexican, an Algerian and a French national.