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Spain to hold memorial service for train crash victims

07-30-2013 00:04 BJT

MADRID, July 29 (Xinhua) -- An official memorial service will be held at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Monday evening in tribute to the victims of last week's horrific train derailment tragedy.

The Spanish royal family and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy are scheduled to attend to pay their respects to those who died in what is Spain's second-deadliest train crash.

The tragedy happened Wednesday evening on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain when a Madrid-to-Ferrol train, carrying 218 passengers, left the tracks on a sharp curve.

On Sunday, a woman hospitalized after the crash died of severe injuries, bringing the death toll so far to 79.

Another 69 people were still receiving treatment in various hospitals in the region, 22 of them in critical condition (including two children), local health officials said at a press conference.

Police said Friday 52-year-old Francisco Garzon Amo, driver of the train, was arrested and charged with "reckless homicide" Thursday at a hospital in Santiago, where he was being treated for a light head injury suffered in the accident.

Amo, who has over 30 years of experience with the state train company Renfe, was reported to have admitted traveling at 190 km per hour, more than double the 80 kph speed limit for that section of track.

The driver should have started slowing the train before reaching a bend that train drivers had been told to respect, the president of Spanish rail network administrator ADIF said.

Amo was released on bail but banned from leaving Spain for six months after being brought to the courthouse for a two-hour closed hearing, according to local media.

Rajoy on Thursday announced three days of nationwide mourning for the victims.

"This terrible accident is going to remain in our minds for a long time," Rajoy said. It is Spain's worst train crash since 1972 when a train collided with a bus, killing 86 and injuring 112.

Flowers were placed before the ancient cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, a traditional site for celebration of a local Christian festival in honor of St. James, one of Jesus's 12 apostles. But this year's feast was canceled as the city went into mourning after the disaster, which occurred on the eve of the festival.

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe, Rajoy and members of his government as well as presidents of Spain's regional authorities were to attend the memorial service, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (1700GMT) on Monday.


Editor:Bai Yang |Source: Xinhua

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