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July 26, 2013

Spanish Train Driver Identified, 'Black Box' Recovered

by VOA News

Officials in northern Spain have identified the driver of the fast-moving train that derailed and killed scores of people.
 
State train company Renfe says 52-year-old Francisco Jose Garzon is a 30-year veteran of the firm with more than a decade of train driving experience. A judge has ordered police to question Garzon, who is hospitalized with injuries. 
 
Authorities say investigators are in possession of the train's data recording "black box."
 
Reports say the train may have been traveling more than twice the 80-kilometer-per-hour speed limit at the time of the crash on a curve in the tracks outside Santiago de Compostela. 
 
Spanish police have lowered the death toll from 80 to 78, saying the count could change again as they continue their work. More than 140 people were injured in the crash.
 
More than 80 people are still hospitalized, with 32 of them, including four children, in serious condition.
 
Spanish authorities have opened two investigations into the derailment - one by judicial authorities and another by the public works department. 
 
Security camera footage shows the train, which was traveling Wednesday night from Madrid to the port of Ferrol, slamming into a concrete wall at the side of the track as the engine overturned.
 
On Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, visited the crash site and the hospital where many of the injured are being treated. He declared three days of mourning to honor the victims of the crash.
 
Recovery teams used cranes Thursday to move the carriages from the scene of the derailment.
 
The disaster happened on the eve of an annual festival dedicated to Saint James, one of Jesus' disciples, whose remains are said to rest in Santiago's centuries-old cathedral.
 
The apostle's shrine is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across the Pyrenees, which has been followed by Christians since the Middle Ages and has had a resurgence in popularity in recent decades. 
 
The derailment is Spain's deadliest train crash since 1972 when a train collided with a bus in southern Spain, killing 80 people.