Court lowers to 12 those killed in feastday rail accident in Spain

By Harold Heckle, AP
Saturday, June 26, 2010

Death toll in Spanish rail accident lowered to 12

BARCELONA — Several hundred people gathered in Barcelona late Saturday to mourn a group of young partygoers killed by an express train in northeast Spain, and called for an investigation into how the accident happened.

The victims were hit by the train as they crossed railway lines to reach a beach festival shortly before midnight Wednesday. Preliminary forensics determined 12 people were killed — one less than previously calculated, based on the body parts found, officials said. At least 14 others were injured.

Around 500 people gathered Saturday night at Barcelona’s Arco de Triunfo to call on “everyone concerned to back a thorough investigation to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again,” said Ecuadorean Ambassador Galo Chiriboga, who organized the event.

Ten of those killed have been identified, with five coming from Ecuador, two from Bolivia and two from Columbia. The nationality of one person has not been released, and investigators are still working to identify two others.

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia asked that the train’s black box be made available to accident investigators.

At the time about 700 people had just deboarded a train and were going through an underground station crossing on their way to beach bonfires in Castelldefels, south of Barcelona, for the popular feast day of St. John held two days after the summer solstice.

With the tunnel packed with people, some tried to get ahead by jumping onto the tracks, and were hit by the fast-moving train, officials said.

Some of the revelers have claimed there were not enough signs in the tunnel showing the route to the exit — a claim officials have denied.

National railway spokesman Enrique Urquijo called the attempt to cross the tracks was foolhardy and illegal, noting that penalties can run between €6,000 ($7,376) and €30,000 ($36,882), news agency Europa Press said.

Hours after the tragedy, police fined a Russian woman who had climbed down from the station platform and crossed at the same spot.

Associated Press Writer Harold Heckle in Madrid contributed to this report.

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