Jul 24 2013, 11:28pm CDT | by IANS
Madrid, July 25 (IANS/EFE) At least 35 people were killed and about 200 were injured Wednesday when a high-speed passenger train ran off the tracks near the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.
The accident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. as the train was approaching a station along the Madrid-Ferrol route.
Local residents said they heard a loud noise and then saw the train split into segments.
By nightfall, at least 15 bodies had been recovered.
Police sources said passengers remained trapped in the wreckage, while TVE television reported that around 200 people were hurt in the disaster.
Development Minister Ana Pastor is at the accident scene and remains in contact with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, officials said. King Juan Carlos also contacted the appropriate authorities as soon as he learned of the crash.
Authorities do not yet know what caused the accident, but one of the main hypotheses is excessive speed. The interior ministry ruled out an attack as the cause of the crash.
However, the Galician regional government said that "we cannot rule out any hypothesis", although "we have no indication that it may have been (due to) an external cause".
Due to the number of victims known so far, the Madrid-Ferrol tragedy is the third most serious train accident in Spanish history, and it is also the first accident with fatalities to occur in Spain on a high-speed rail line.
Spain's Renfe railroad service said in a press release that the train had a total of 218 passengers, in addition to its normal crew complement, on board at the time of the crash.
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