August 21, 2006

Five people killed in Spanish train crash

By Ana Perez

VILLADA, Spain (Reuters) - A train traveling between Spain
and France with 426 passengers derailed in the northwest
Spanish region of Palencia on Monday, killing five people and
injuring 36, officials said.

It was too early to say what caused the crash, they said,
but saw no initial sign of terrorism.

Witnesses said the train's six carriages came off the
tracks while going around a bend near Villada station, about 30
km (19 miles) northwest of the regional capital, Palencia.

One carriage hit a bridge pillar, officials said.

"Five dead is the official figure. We know people are
giving another figure, but we can't confirm it," said Agustin
Manrique, a spokesman for the Palencia regional government.

The head of the regional government initially told
reporters 64 people were hurt in the derailment, but later
corrected the number to 36, with four passengers seriously

"The carriage started to move from right to left, all the
windows broke and bags were flying everywhere until it finally
stopped. There was a lot of smoke. I thought there had been a
fire," an unnamed passenger told Spanish state radio.

Emergency authorities set up a field hospital near the site
and four helicopters transported injured to nearby hospitals.

"It seems the first carriage derailed, collided or hit a
bridge, and then it took another (carriage) with it. It's an
extremely serious accident," Villada's mayor Julian Garcia
Corrales told the Ser radio station.

The officials said the train was traveling between the
Spanish city of Vigo and the French border town of Hendaye. The
border area is part of the Basque region.

Basque ETA separatist guerrillas are observing a ceasefire
but said this month talks with the government were in crisis.

In March 2004, 191 people were killed and more than 1,800
people were wounded in simultaneous bomb blasts on packed
rush-hour trains at three stations in the Spanish capital,
Madrid. The Socialist government blamed the attacks on al Qaeda
linked militants.