Sunday 26 February 2017

12 killed as train hits festival-goers in Spain

Alastair Jamieson

Twelve young revellers have been killed after a high-speed passenger train hit them as they crossed a railway track south of Barcelona on their way to a beach celebration.

The dead and injured are thought to be mostly youths celebrating the annual San Juan mid-summer festival, which often includes beach bonfires, fireworks and concerts.

Reports said they had arrived at Castelldefels Playa station on another train from Barcelona and were crossing the tracks to go to the beach, although the station was equipped with a pedestrian underpass.

At least 13 others were injured in the accident, which happened at 11.30pm local time on Wednesday, according to a statement from the interior ministry of the regional government of Catalonia.

One witness, Fernando Ortega, told Spanish media the train they arrived on was "very full" and a large number of people got out at the same time so "most decided to jump across the tracks and cross to the other side of the station" to avoid the crush.

It was then that the northbound express train came past.

The head of the regional emergency services, Josep Maria Soto, told Spain's TV3 television that the cause of the accident is under investigation but "the positions of the first victims we found gives the impression they were hit" by a train as they were crossing the track.

Jose Ramon Mora, head of the Civil Protection Department for the Catalonia regional government, said the group crossed the tracks above ground rather than using a designated tunnel underneath.

Passengers on the express train, which was travelling from Alicante to Barcelona, were unhurt.

Hundreds of mostly young people were celebrating on the nearby beach.

St. John's Day, June 24, is a public holiday in many parts of Spain and bonfire celebrations traditionally begin the night before.

It is thought to be the worst rail accident in Spain since 19 were killed and 38 injured in a June 2003 head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train near Chinchilla.

Telegraph.co.uk

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