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Spain rail-crash 'black box' opened

Source BBC News@

 In this July 25, 2013 file photo, a rail personnel worker checks the cabin of a derailed train following an accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Police hope the recorder will explain the final seconds of the train journey

Spanish police have opened the "black-box" data recorder of the train that derailed last week, killing 79 people.

Crash investigators are sifting data on the train's speed, and communication involving the driver.

They are trying to establish if the train had a fault, or if the driver was speeding before Wednesday's crash near Santiago de Compostela.

The driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, is suspected of reckless homicide, but he has not yet been formally charged.

Mr Garzon was released from custody on Sunday, but he remains under court supervision.

Officials said information from the data recorders will be passed on to the judge leading investigations into the case.

Members of the royal family attended the Mass

On Monday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, along with Prince Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia, joined bereaved relatives for a Mass for the 79 victims in Santiago de Compostela.

City officials had been preparing for the religious feast of St James of Compostela - Spain's patron saint - but cancelled the festivities after the crash.

Archbishop Julian Barrio told the congregation: "Families who have lost your loved ones, from the first moment we have had you in our hearts, as have Galicia and Spain, and so many people beyond our borders who have asked me to pass on their condolences."

Officials say 70 people remain in hospital, 22 of them in a critical condition.

Passport surrendered

Mr Garzon, 52, arrived at court in handcuffs on Sunday, his head scarred by an injury he suffered in the crash.

The train crash driver, "said he wanted to die" after the crash, a witness tells the BBC

He was questioned behind closed doors for almost two hours by Judge Luis Alaez.

Later, a court statement said he had been released pending further investigations but must appear before a court once a week and was not allowed to leave Spain without permission.

His passport has been surrendered to the judge and his licence to drive a train has been suspended.

Rescue workers stand amongst the wreckage of the train crash near Santiago de Compostela on 25 July.The crash was one of the worst in Spanish history

Reports have suggested the train was going at 190km/h (118mph) as the driver took the bend, where the speed limit is just 80km/h.

All eight carriages of the train careered off the tracks into a concrete wall as they sped around the curve on the express route between Madrid and the port city of Ferrol on the Galician coast.

The crash was one of the worst rail disasters in Spanish history.

Trains crash map

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