Spain Train Crash Hearing: 'Driver On Phone'

Spain Train Crash Hearing: 'Driver On Phone'

The driver of the train that crashed in Spain killing 79 people was on a phone talking to railway officials just before it derailed, investigators say.

The train was travelling at 119mph (190kph) in the moments before it came off the tracks outside of Santiago de Compostela last Wednesday, a preliminary hearing has been told.

The court, sitting in Spain's capital city Madrid, was told the conductor activated the brakes "seconds before the crash".

But investigators working with the Court of Justice in Galicia said this only managed to slow it to 95mph (153kph) at the point when it came off the rails on a bend.

The speed limit at the spot where the train derailed was set at 50mph (80kph).

Crash investigators have been opening the black boxes which record details about the train's speed and conversations between drivers and other controllers.

Under Spanish law, the contents of the black boxes were revealed within a court environment.

The train was carrying 218 passengers when it hurtled off the tracks last Wednesday evening. It slammed into a concrete wall, causing some carriages to flip over and catch fire.

So far, 79 people have died, and at least 130 were taken to hospital. Two Americans were among the dead, while four US citizens and one Briton were among the injured.

Dozens of passengers are still being treated for injuries.

The driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo has been identified as the person most likely to be responsible for multiple cases of negligent homicide, but is still under investigation.

He was questioned and then released on Sunday and is under court supervision.

A statement released by the court said Mr Amo had been talking on his work phone to an official of national rail company Renfe while apparently consulting a paper document at the time of the crash.

"Minutes before the train came off the tracks he received a call on his work phone to get indications on the route he had to take to get to Ferrol," it said.

"From the content of the conversation and background noise it seems that the driver consulted a map or paper document."

The statement on the preliminary findings did not indicate whether such a phone conversation is common between a driver of a moving train and a controller.

It did not say how long the call lasted, did not name the Renfe official who called the driver, nor did it further describe what plan or document the driver had been consulting.

Investigators from the Santiago de Compostela court, forensic police experts, the Ministry of Transport and Renfe examined the contents of the two black boxes.

The Spanish railway agency has already said the brakes should have been applied 2.5 miles (4km) before the train hit the curve.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting