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TRAIN CRASH

Crash driver detained for ‘reckless homicide’

The driver of a speeding train that hurtled off the rails killing 78 people in Spain was detained for "reckless homicide", Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said Saturday.

Crash driver detained for 'reckless homicide'
A train passes the scene of the recent crash at Angrois. Photo: Miguel Riopa/ AFP

"He has been detained since 7:40pm on Thursday for the alleged crimes of reckless homicide," the minister told reporters in the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela where the accident happened.

Police said Friday that they had detained the driver, accusing him of "recklessness" in Wednesday night's devastating crash but gave no further details.

They said the driver, identified by media as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, refused to answer their questions Friday in his hospital bed and the case has been passed to the courts.

The driver will be questioned by a judge on Sunday, the interior minister added.

Under Spanish law, a suspect can be detained for a maximum of 72 hours before being heard by a judge.

"There are reasonable grounds to consider that he may have been responsible for what happened, which must be established by a judge and the investigation which has been opened," he said.

The train was said to have been travelling at more than twice the speed limit on a curve when it hurtled off the rails and slammed into a concrete wall, with one carriage leaping up onto a siding.

The grey-haired driver, who reportedly boasted of his love for speed online, has been under police surveillance in hospital since the accident but he was discharged on Saturday and taken to a police station.

He reportedly suffered head injuries in the accident that required stitches.

 

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CATALONIA

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?
Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

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. 

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