Spain train crash: Driver Garzon declines to give evidence

Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by a policeman after a train crashed near Santiago de Compostela, 24 July 2013. Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo was among those injured in the crash

The driver of the train that derailed killing 78 people has refused to answer initial questions, Spanish police say.

Francisco Jose Garzon Amo - hurt in Wednesday's crash - is under guard in hospital.

He is suspected of driving too fast round a bend. Reports say the train was travelling at more than double the speed limit at the time of the crash.

The case should now "proceed to a judicial process", the police added. Spain is in three days of mourning.

The police chief in the Galicia region, Jaime Iglesias, said earlier that the driver would be questioned "as a suspect for a crime linked to the cause of the accident".

No date has been fixed for his appearance before the judge, a spokeswoman for Galicia's High Court, which is leading the investigation, told the AFP news agency.

BBC reporter Tim Willcox: "This is Spain's worst rail disaster in a generation."

Police also put the confirmed number of deaths at 78 - down from 80 announced earlier.

They said the difference arose because human remains had been wrongly identified in the initial stages.

At least 130 people were taken to hospital after the accident near the north-western city of Santiago de Compostela, and 95 are still being treated.

The 32 seriously injured include children. People from several nationalities are among the wounded, including five Americans and one Briton. One American was among the dead.

Cristobal Vanyo recalls the Santiago de Compostela train crash

On Friday one of the first funerals for the dead took place in the small Galician town of Pontecesures.

Hundreds of people paid their respects to Antonio Villamarin in the small square next to the town's church as the building itself was full, the BBC's Tom Burridge reports from the town.

Mr Villamartin was travelling from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela for a friend's wedding along with his girlfriend, who survived the crash.

Black box

On Thursday junior transport minister Rafael Catala said early indications suggested the train had been going too fast.

Spanish train crashes

  • August 2006: Inter-city train derails in Villada, in the province of Palencia, killing six people and injuring dozens more
  • July 2006: At least 43 people killed in a metro train crash in the Valencia area
  • 1972: Andalusia crash leaves between 76 and 86 people dead.
  • 1944: Hundreds believed dead after a crash in Torre del Bierzo, in Leon province - official account gave the figure as 78 killed.

The Madrid to Ferrol train's data recording "black box" is now with the judge in charge of the investigation.

It is unclear whether anyone else is subject to investigation.

The president of railway firm Renfe, Julio Gomez Pomar, was quoted by El Mundo newspaper as saying the 52-year-old driver had 30 years of experience with the company and had been operating trains on the line for more than a year.

He said the train which derailed had no technical problems.

Renfe said the train came off the tracks about 3 or 4km (2-2.5 miles) from Santiago de Compostela station at 20:41 local time (18:41 GMT) on Wednesday.

It was on the express route between the capital, Madrid, and the port city of Ferrol on the Galician coast, with 218 passengers on board and four crew.

The derailment happened on the eve of Santiago de Compostela's main annual festival where thousands of Christian pilgrims were expected to flock to the city in honour of St James.

Trains crash map

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