July 4, 2006

Crashed Spanish train going at twice speed limit

By Ana Perez

VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) - A Spanish underground train was
traveling at twice the speed limit when it derailed and killed
41 people, a Valencia city official said on Tuesday.

Black box data showed the train was doing 80 km per hour
(48 mph) through a curving tunnel just before entering the
Jesus metro station on Monday in Spain's worst underground
train accident, said Valencia's transport chief Jose Ramon

"Without any doubt, this caused the derailing," Garcia told

An accident report by metro operator Ferrocarrils de la
Generalitat Valenciana speculated that the driver, who was
among those killed, might have suffered some type of sudden
physical problem, newspaper El Pais said.

Valencia's train drivers' union, which had earlier said it
suspected poor maintenance had caused the accident, accepted
the train had been going too fast on a dangerous curve.

"We're sure something happened to the driver," said union
chief Fernando Soto.

At least one survivor told Spanish media on Monday that the
train had accelerated before braking suddenly just before the

Another survivor said terrified passengers had begun to
shout "an attack, an attack," recalling the Islamist train
bombings which killed 191 people in Madrid in 2004. Officials
ruled out a terror attack as the cause of the crash.

Valencia city authorities declared three days of mourning
after the accident. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
cut short a visit to India to fly home to attend funerals on
Tuesday evening in Valencia, which is preparing for a visit by
Pope Benedict.

The city government said all safety procedures had been
followed on metro line one, which was opened in 1988, and that
the train had been checked on June 27.

Emergency workers used chains to try to drag out two
carriages which shot off the rails on a bend in the tunnel just
before entering the Jesus metro station.

Survivors described smashing train windows to stagger out
into a dark tunnel littered with dead and dying.

"I closed my eyes. I didn't want to see what was
happening," said Arturo Terol, 65.

Two people were in critical condition on Tuesday and
another 45 people were hurt.