Scores Dead in Massive High-Speed Train Derailment in Spain

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 25 2013 9:15 AM

A "Dante-Esque Scene" in Spain: At Least 78 Dead in Massive High-Speed Train Derailment

174358466
Rescuers work at the site of a train accident as the bodies of the victims, covered with blankets, lie on the ground, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said

Photo by Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

More bad news from the world of transportation: A high-speed train in northwest Spain derailed Wednesday night, leaving at least 78 people dead and more than 140 others injured, according to the latest word from officials on the ground. The BBC reports that the investigation into the crash is ongoing, although early signs suggest that the train may have been traveling at more than twice the 80 km/h speed limit when it went around a curve and all eight of the train's carriages left the tracks. Spanish officials say one of the train's drivers has been put under formal investigation.

Eyewitness accounts from the scene made the severity of the crash immediately clear last night. Four of the carriages were overturned—at least one of which was torn open with smoke billowing out by the time first-responders arrived on the scene. A photographer at the scene told the Associated Press that he saw dozens of what appeared to be dead bodies being pulled from the wreckage by emergency workers. Early photos and video of the crash site appeared to show an untold number of bodies covered by blankets near the wreckage. "There are bodies lying on the railway track," local official Alberto Nunez Feijoo told radio Cadena Ser last night (translation via the AFP). "It's a Dante-esque scene." By morning CCTV video had surfaced showing the moment the train derailed, footage that gives a glimpse into the force at which the train left the tracks:

The train, which was carrying more than 200 passengers, was headed from Madrid to Ferroil when it came off the tracks near Santiago de Compostela. Local officials say that it's too early to say for certain what caused the derailment, although so far there has been little to suggest a link to anything resembling terrorism or another type of deliberate attack. Assuming that's the case, it becomes the third deadly train accident this month—following the derailment in France that killed at least a half dozen and the one in Quebec that left roughly 50 dead—and at least the fifth in Europe over the past two years. (The AP has a more complete rundown of Europe's recent accidents here.)

Advertisement

This post, originally published on Wednesday, July 24, has been updated with additional information as it became available.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.