Terrifying footage from a security camera shows Wednesday’s high-speed train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The derailment killed 80 people and injured at least 140 more, according to estimates reported by the Associated Press.
The U.S. State Department confirmed Thursday that one American was killed and five others injured when the train hurtled toward the bend and flipped over the tracks.
Robert Fariza, one of the American survivors whose wife was badly injured, described the chaotic scene in an interview with NBC News. He said there were “dead people everywhere” and that doctors were “picking and choosing” who to treat among the overwhelming number of victims. (It’s normal for doctors to perform triage, prioritizing which patients need attention first.)
Investigators are looking into the 52-year-old driver and the train’s warning system for possible failings. Train expert Christian Wolmar said on NewsNation Thursday that some combination of the two was likely to blame.
“There is supposed to be a warning system to alert the driver that he’s going too fast, but either he didn’t hear the warnings, or he ignored them, or the machine didn’t work properly,” said Wolmar. “Whatever happened, the train was going far too fast, and that’s why it derailed.”
President Obama offered his condolences in a statement:
“Michelle and I were shocked and saddened by the news of yesterday’s tragic train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. On behalf of the American people, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of the more than 80 people who lost their lives. We extend our wishes for a full recovery to those who were hurt. We also offer our heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Spain and to the rescue personnel who are working to locate the missing and treat the injured - including at least six Americans. Today the American people grieve with our Spanish friends, who are in our thoughts and prayers. We stand ready to provide any assistance we can in the difficult days ahead.”