Spain train crash: Driver Francisco Garzon 'admits to recklessness' and faces 79 charges of negligent homicide

 

The train driver suspected of causing Spain's worst rail disaster for decades has been freed on jail after admitting to recklessness, it has been reported locally.

Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, was provisionally charged with multiple cases of negligent homicide and was taken to court in Santiago de Compostela for questioning by Judge Luis Alaez, who - during a two-hour period - formally accused him of causing the derailment just outside the city on Wednesday.

His passport has been withdrawn and he was ordered to report to a police station every week.

The Spanish rail agency has said the brakes should have been applied 2.5 miles before the train hit the curve.

Investigators must determine if Garzon Amo failed to apply the brakes or whether it was a technical failure.

Meanwhile, one of the 168 passengers injured in the crash died in a Santiago hospital, taking the death toll to 79.

A large funeral mass in Santiago de Compostela will be held this afternoon, which the Spanish prime minister and members of the royal family are expected to attend.

Officials said 70 people injured in the train accident remained in hospital, 22 in critical condition.

The only Briton injured in the disaster has received treatment in intensive care for a broken pelvis and ribs and has had his spleen removed

Mark Woodward, 38, originally from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was spotted by his stepfather in news reports which showed him being carried from the scene flanked by two people, covered in blood with a ripped shirt.

Robert Spencer told the BBC his stepson lives in the region of Galicia where the crash happened with his Spanish wife and son.

"That was a shocking thing to see," he said.

"Grateful that he was apparently walking OK and alive, but still a shock.

"There was blood all over them, a huge gash on his stomach and his head had been really bashed about."

An official funeral for the dead will be held at Santiago cathedral today at 7pm local time.

Victims include nationals from France, Algeria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States, according to reports.

Some 75 of those killed were identified through their fingerprints while additional DNA work was required for another three after the derailment left "Dante-esque" scenes of destruction.

Authorities are in possession of the train's so-called "black box", which is expected to shed further light on the cause of the disaster.

Early indications suggested the train was travelling at around 118mph - more than twice the 50mph speed limit - when it crashed while heading into a curve.

In a television interview broadcast by Antena 3, local resident Evaristo Iglesias told how in the aftermath of the crash the driver had said he was going too fast and that "he had needed to brake but couldn't".

"He told us that he wanted to die," Mr Iglesias said.

In March 2012, Garzon Amo allegedly posted boasts on Facebook about how fast he was driving a train and joked about racing past police.

He is believed to have taken control of the train from a second driver about 65 miles south of Santiago.

Wednesday's train crash is the worst Spain has experienced since a three-train accident in a tunnel in the northern Leon province in 1944.

PA

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