Train crash death toll revised down to 78

Spanish officials on Friday slightly lowered the official death toll from a train derailment in the northwest to 78, including four foreigners.

Train crash death toll revised down to 78
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (R) and Galicia's President Alberto Nunez Feijoo (2nd R) at the site of the train accident on Thursday. Photo: Lavandeira Jr/Pool/AFP

Government officials in Galicia, the region where Wednesday's accident occurred, initially said 80 people had been killed and over 100 injured when the train flew off the tracks while reportedly travelling at twice the speed limit.

Galicia police chief Jaime Iglesias, speaking at a news conference in Santiago de Compostela, blamed the discrepancy in the death toll on some remains that were wrongly identified in the initial stages.

Six of the 78 fatalities have yet to be identified.

Forensic police were working with "mangled bodies", he added, some of which where hard to recognize because of the injuries sustained.

An American, an Algerian, a Mexican and a French national were among the dead, local officials said.

Police used DNA samples, dental records and fingerprints and would now also use "other tactics" to identify the remaining six, the head of the Spanish national police force's forensics department, Antonio del Amo, told reporters.

He did not specify what those methods would be. "We will continue to work on it," he said.

Galician Health Minister Rocio Mosquera said among the injured were passengers from eight foreign countries including Argentina, Britain, Colombia, Peru, and the United States.

The US state department confirmed the American death and said five US citizens were injured in the crash.

The Diocese of Arlington in the US state of Virginia named the American fatality as its colleague Ana Maria Cordoba, and on its Facebook page called for prayers for her family.

The train with more than 200 passengers and crew on board derailed on a sharp bend on Wednesday evening, just outside the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia.

Many of the passengers were thought to have been on their way to a religious festival in Santiago, which has now been cancelled.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Which Spanish regions are likely to allow people to remove their masks outdoors?

As Spain's vaccine campaign gains speed and the infection rate drops, there are indications that facemasks will very soon no longer be compulsory outdoors in several Spanish regions.

Which Spanish regions are likely to allow people to remove masks outdoors?

Spain’s Health Emergencies chief Fernando Simón said at a recent press conference that he is hopeful about relaxing the rule about the use of masks in outdoor spaces, as long as the safety distance of 1.5 meters can be guaranteed.

“It is very possible that in a few days the use of a mask outdoors can be reduced. Of course, always guaranteeing that the risks are decreasing,” he said.

However, Simón also added that “reducing one measure does not mean that the same should be done with all measures”. In addition, he asked citizens to go “step by step and be careful until we see the effects that mean we can relax the restrictions”.

Although this will be decided in the next few days Simón does not want anyone to “fall into false assurances”.

Face masks have been compulsory in public in Spain since May 21st 2020, and since March of this year, you are required to wear them in almost all indoor and outdoor settings, even if you’re sticking to the safety distance, unless the activity is incompatible with mask-wearing such as eating, drinking, sunbathing, running etc. 

Regions that could possibly relax restrictions on the use of masks outdoors

If the mask restrictions are relaxed by the government and the health authorities, the regions that could already qualify because of their low-to-medium risk epidemiological situations include Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Castilla La-Mancha, Extremadura, the Valencian region, Murcia, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.

Which regions are in favour of the move?

Both Catalonia and Galicia have said that they would be in favour of dropping the use of masks outdoors.

The Catalan government was one of the first regions to open the discussion on relaxing the use of masks outdoors.

According to Catalan Regional Health Secretary MarcRamentol, the Catalan government considers that with at least 30 percent of the population fully vaccinated and more than half of the population having received at least one dose, the matter is worth discussing. 

Not having to wear a mask outdoors will help the summer “feel more like 2019 than that of 2020”, said Ramentol.

President of the Xunta of Galicia Alberto Núñez Feijoo, said last week that he expects the use of masks outdoors will be abolished in July, however on Tuesday, May 18th at the Hotusa Group Tourism Innovation Forum in Madrid, he insisted that it is only “a matter of weeks”.

Although Valencia currently still has some strict rules in place, Regional President Ximo Puig has stated that he is in favour of the mask not being compulsory in open spaces. “We know that in open spaces there is a much lower possibility of contagion and I have been supporting this for a long time – it is not necessary to use the mask in some open spaces, natural spaces or on the beaches,” he said.

Which regions want to keep making masks compulsory in outdoor spaces

Regional authorities in Madrid and the Basque Country, the regions which the highest infection rates in Spain have criticised the national government’s position regarding masks, arguing that’s it’s too soon for masks to no longer be obligatory outdoors.

Andalusia is also against the proposal. Jesús Aguirre, Minister of Health and Families in Adalusia, has said that it would be a mistake since the mask is “the most powerful weapon” with which we have to avoid possible infections within the region.