Driver of deadly Spain train crash faces probe

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Spain20130727SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA/GALICIA: Spanish police were waiting on Friday to question one of the drivers of a train that derailed, killing at least 80 passengers, amid media reports it was travelling at twice the speed limit.

The driver, lightly injured, “would be questioned by police in hospital where he has been placed under surveillance,” the High Court in Galicia said in a statement on Thursday.

The investigating magistrate in the case had not ordered his detention, the statement added.

“The judge has asked police to take his statement,” in the presence of a lawyer, a court spokeswoman said. After that, he will have to give his account before the magistrate, she added.

A police source said they had originally expected to question him on Thursday.

Renfe, the state railway company, has said it is too early to determine the cause of the tragedy.

But secretary of state for transport Rafael Catala told radio station Cadena Ser that the early signs suggested the crash had been caused by the train going too fast.

According to several media reports, the train was going at twice the speed limit when it crashed near the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a native of the city, announced the launch of two probes into the accident and declared three days of national mourning.

A local government official in the Galicia region said there were 80 confirmed dead, making it the deadliest rail accident since 1944 when hundreds were killed in a train collision, also between Madrid and Galicia.

Regional health minister Rocio Mosquera said another 178 had been injured, including 94 who remain in hospital—and warned that the death toll could rise.

Thirty-two of the injured were in critical condition, including four children.

Renfe had said there were 218 passengers and four crew on the train, but the casualty toll provided by the regional government indicated there were over 250 people on board.

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