SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (AFP) – Spanish police on Friday announced they have formally detained the driver of a fast-moving train that flew off the tracks, killing at least 78 people, saying he was suspected of “recklessness”.
“He has been detained since 8:00 pm (Thursday). He is accused of crimes related to the accident,” Jaime Iglesias, the police chief in the northwestern region of Galicia where the accident happened, told reporters.
Asked at a news conference in Santiago de Compostela why the driver was being detained, Iglesias said: “For recklessness”.
A Spanish judge on Thursday ordered police to question the hospitalized driver following reports he was going twice the speed limit when the train derailed on a sharp bend Wednesday evening just outside the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela.
The driver — identified by local media as 52-year-old Francisco Jose Garzon Amo — has since been under police surveillance in hospital while being treated for light injuries sustained in the accident.
He has not yet been charged with a crime and police are still waiting to question him.
The driver, while trapped inside his cab immediately after the accident, told railway officials by radio that the train had taken the curve at 190 kilometres per hour (118 mph), unidentified investigation sources told leading daily El Pais.
The speed limit on that section of track is 80 km/h.
The grey-haired driver, pictured in the media with blood covering the left side of his face after the crash, has been with Spanish state railway Renfe for 30 years and has 13 years’ experience as a driver, the rail firm said.
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