Spain train crash witnesses speak of chaos

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Media captionEyewitnesses describe hearing the crash and running to the scene

Surviving passengers of the derailed inter-city train from Madrid to Ferrol have been providing accounts of what is considered to be Spain's worst rail accident in four decades.

The train derailed at 20:41 (18:41 GMT) near the north-western city of Santiago de Compostela, in the Galicia region, leaving dozens dead and more than 100 injured.

One passenger on the train, Sergio Prego, told SER radio station he was lucky to get out of the train alive.

"The train was going at a very fast speed and on the curve it went off the tracks and it overturned. We were the lucky ones that were able to get out on our own feet.

Guillermo, another passenger, also said they had been travelling at great speed. "It derailed as it was going round the corner. I was very lucky, we survived. It was a disaster. I don't know how many dead but there are many."

'There was fire'

Image caption Shocked survivors contemplate the disaster at the scene

Ricardo Montesco said he and other surviving passengers were stuck in one of the bottom carriages.

"A lot of people were squashed on the bottom. We tried to squeeze out of the bottom of the wagons to get out and we realised the train was burning," he said, speaking to the Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. "I was in the second wagon and there was fire... I saw corpses," he added.

"I was at home and I heard something like a clap of thunder, It was very loud and there was lots of smoke," said Maria Teresa Ramos, who lived just metres from where the incident occurred.

Image caption Police and investigators examine the front section of the train for clues

Another nearby resident, Francisco Otero, described hearing a "huge bang as if there had been an earthquake", speaking to the AFP news agency.

"The first thing I saw was the body of a woman. I had never seen a corpse before. My neighbours tried to pull people who were trapped inside the carriages with clubs and they eventually got them out with a handsaw. It was unreal," he said.

A local resident, Patricia Varela, told the BBC she saw the operations to rescue the victims. "There are two cranes trying to move some of the carriages in order to recover the bodies inside," she said. "There are ambulances moving the corpses to a special facility they are using as a morgue."

Images of the rescue operation show dozens of emergency workers crowding around mangled train carriages and several bodies covered in blankets laid out near the tracks.

"The scene is shocking, it's Dante-esque," said the head of the regional government in Galicia, Alberto Nunez Feijoo.

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