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'I'm going at 190kph – I'm going to derail'

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THIS is the terrifying moment a Spanish train hurtled off the rails and smashed into a security wall, killing 80 people.

As it rounded a bend, the train was going so fast that carriages tumbled off the tracks like dominos, according to eyewitnesses and video footage.

Analysis of video images shows that the train was travelling well above the speed limit when it derailed.

Officials say the limit on that section of track is 80kph. However, the train's speed at the moment of impact gives a range of up to 192kph.

The official death toll from Wednesday night's crash near Santiago de Compostela rose to 80, the country's deadliest crash in four decades.

Hospital officials said 141 people were injured, and 36 remained in critical condition, among them four children.

Claims also emerged that one of the drivers allegedly joked on a previous occasion about speeding past police.

Spanish media named one of the drivers as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo and reported boasts he allegedly posted on Facebook about how fast he was driving a train in 2012.

The 52-year-old, who with a second driver survived the crash and is being treated in hospital for minor injuries, is now reportedly under investigation.

He allegedly posted a picture of a train speedometer at 200kph.

"What a blast it would be to go parallel with the Guardia Civil [Spanish police] and go past them triggering the radar. Haha what a fine for Renfe [the Spanish train operator] haha," he allegedly wrote in 2012.

According to reports, one of the two drivers on the train realised what was about to happen before the crash and made a call to Renfe ahead of taking the bend, saying: "I'm going at 190kph, I'm going to derail."

In a second call after the accident, he explained that he was trapped in the train's loco.

"We are human, we are human," he is reported to have said. "I hope there are no dead because they would fall on my conscience."

Mr Garzon Amo is not believed to be under arrest but is expected to give evidence to a judge with access to the train's data-recording 'black box'.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, toured the crash scene alongside rescue workers and went to a nearby hospital to visit some of the wounded and their families.

"For a native of Santiago, like me, this is the saddest day," Mr Rajoy said.

Eyewitness accounts backed by security-camera footage suggested the eight-carriage train carrying 218 passengers was going too fast as it tried to turn left underneath a bridge.

Concrete

Video footage shows the train carriages start to buckle soon into the turn, with the first and second carriages leaving the tracks first. The engine itself quickly follows, violently tipping on to its right side as it crashes into a concrete security wall and bulldozes its way along the ground.

All the rear carriages can be seen starting to come off the tracks. The picture goes blank as the engine appears to crash into the camera.

"I saw the train coming out of the bend at great speed and then there was a big noise," eyewitness Consuelo Domingues said. "Then everybody tried to get out of the train."

Santiago officials, who had been preparing for the city's annual Catholic festival, cancelled it and took control of the main sports stadium to use as a makeshift morgue.

It was Spain's deadliest train accident since 1972, when a train collided with a bus in southwest Spain, killing 86 people and injuring 112.

Rescuers described a scene of horror immediately after the crash. Smoke billowed from at least one carriage that had caught fire, while another had been torn into two parts.

Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows. TV images showed one man on a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window.

Other rescuers used rocks to try to free survivors from the burning wreckage.

Nearby, rescue workers lined up bodies covered in blankets alongside the tracks.

hnews@herald.ie


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