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21 die in Spanish rail crash

An express train packed with families returning home from Easter holidays derailed in northern Spain yesterday evening, killing at least 21 people and injuring 80.

Rescuers worked under searchlights to extricate passengers from the train, which came off the rails just before it entered the station in Huarte Araquil. About 250 people were aboard the train, which began its journey inBarcelona.

A Red Cross spokeswoman in Pamplona confirmed the death-toll and said 17 of the injured were in a critical condition. Some people were thought to be trapped under the train's locomotive. Those less seriously hurt were treated and released from various hospitals.

A survivor said: "It all happened in a second. The suitcases tumbled down, people were thrown into the aisles. Everything was crushed together."

A rail spokesman said it was too early to tell what caused the crash, which was being labelled Spain's worst train accident since September 1990, when 26 people died when a train collided with a bus.