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Spain Investigators Say Train Driver Was On Phone When It Crashed, Killing 79 (Video)

( [email protected] ) Jul 30, 2013 12:56 PM EDT
The train driver in last week’s crash in Spain was talking on the phone when it derailed, killing 79 people, investigators say.


The train driver in last week’s crash in Spain was talking on the work phone and appeared to consult a map when it derailed, killing 79 people, investigators say.

On Tuesday, investigators looking into the crash announced their preliminary findings from analysis of the train's data-recording "black boxes," suggesting that human error appears to be the cause of Spain's worst railway disaster in decades.

Minutes before the train came off the tracks the train driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, received a call his work phone in the cabin, not his personal cellphone, to get indications on the route he had to take toward his final destination. From the content of the conversation and background noise it seems that the driver consulted a map or paper document," a court statement said.

The train was travelling at 153km/h (95mph) at the time — almost twice the speed limit. The speed limit on the sharp bend where the train derailed was set at 80km/h (49mph).

Many aboard the train were Catholic pilgrims heading for Santiago’s internationally celebrated annual festival honoring Saint James, a disciple of Jesus whose bones are said to rest in the city’s cathedral.

On Monday, a mass for the victims was held in the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Hundreds of mourners attended the mass which was broadcast live on Spanish television.

66 people caught up in the crash were still in the hospital on Tuesday, 15 of them critically including one child, regional health authorities said.