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article imageSpain train crash driver on phone to rail company, consulting map

By Anne Sewell     Jul 30, 2013 in World
Santiago De Compostela - A Spanish court revealed today that the train that crashed in Santiago de Compostela killing 79 people was travelling at 153 kph as it went off the rails. It was revealed that the driver, Francisco José Garzón Amo, was on his work phone at that time.
Investigations of the black box recordings on the train showed that it was traveling at 192 kph when the brakes were applied. The train then derailed, traveling at a speed of 153 kph. At the spot where the accident occurred, the speed limit is 80 kph.
The High Court of Galicia, which is leading the investigation, said today:
"Seconds before the accident the brakes were activated. It is estimated that at the time of the derailment the train was traveling at 153 kilometers an hour."
On Sunday, examining Judge Luis Alaez charged the driver with 79 counts of reckless homicide and he was released on bail under court supervision.
The train's two data recording "black boxes" were analyzed for the first time on Tuesday by police, in the presence of the examining judge.
The state railway company, Renfe, said that the train had no technical problems and that it had just that morning passed an inspection.
According to Renfe, Garzón had been with the company for 30 years, 13 of which were spent as a train driver. Reportedly, Garzón had driven past the spot where the accident occurred at least 60 times.
However, the train's data recorders appear to show the driver consulting a map at the time of the accident.
"Minutes before the train came off the tracks he received a call on his work phone to get indications on the route he had to take to get to Ferrol. From the content of the conversation and background noise it seems that the driver consulted a map or paper document," a court statement said.
The train was traveling from Madrid to Ferrol in northwestern Spain carrying 218 passengers on Wednesday, when it flew off the tracks when taking a bend too quickly and plowed into a concrete siding about four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela.
On Monday, a memorial service was held for the 79 victims at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Dozens of passengers are still being treated for injuries and the investigation into the incident continues.
Major train crash in Spain
Major train crash in Spain
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