The total number of victims of Castelldefels tragedy grows while the identification continues

13 and not 12 is the total number of victims who immediately died from being hit by a high-speed train, according to the forensic exam. In addition, 3 of the wounded are in critical condition. The forensic analysis continues and 9 corpses have already bee

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

June 26, 2010 12:19 AM

Barcelona (CNA).- Almost 48 hours after a high-speed train ran into a group of 30 people, the work to identify the remains continues in the Institute of Legal Medicine of Catalonia. 9 people have been already identified. In addition, yesterday, the remains of a 13th person were found at the scene of the accident, increasing the original number of victims. The 14 wounded people are said to be in a positive recovery in different hospitals excepting 3, who remain in a critical state, with 1 of them in coma. More details are being known about the accident, pointing to the victims’ temerity as the main cause of the catastrophe.

The Catalan Minister for Justice, Montserrat Tura, has confirmed that 9 victims have already been identified. For 3 others, some “identity identifications” are already known even though further forensic analyses are to be performed. As for the last bodily remains found, Tura has said that their identification could “last some days”. Out of the 9 people identified, 8 are men and 1 is a woman. 5 are from Ecuador, 2 from Bolivia and 2 from Colombia. The Minister has asked the families for a little more patience as she prefers an accurate but slow identification process to one that is badly-done but quick. No official communication has been given to the families on the identification of the victims by the Ministry of Justice, as it will wait for the investigation judge’s authorisation. Tura has added this morning that she hopes that DNA will not be necessary for any identification, although it may be needed for the 13th victim.

20 forensic doctors are working per turns in the corpses’ identification. They are professionals experienced in large catastrophes, as they collaborated in the identification of victims from the Barajas plane accident and the South-East Asia Tsunami. However, this is the biggest catastrophe these doctors have ever faced in Catalonia. It is the first time that the special room for large catastrophes has been used in the new headquarters of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Catalonia, in the recently inaugurated Barcelona City of Justice.

Among the 14 wounded people, most of them are experiencing a positive recovery in different hospitals in the area of Barcelona. However, 3 of them remain in a critical state and their lives are in danger. The person in the worst condition is a 25-year old woman who is in coma at the Bellvitge Hospital.

The investigation carries on

The train was passing by the station at 139 km/h and it had the authorisation to go up to a maximum of 150 km/h. In addition, contradicting some of the initial witnesses, the investigation has confirmed that the train horned twice: the first time before entering the station and the second when the driver saw the crowd on the tracks. The conductor hit the brakes but at that speed it took 800 metres to completely stop. Blood tests to the conductor have confirmed that he had not consumed any toxic substance.

Regarding the station, it has also been confirmed that the underpass was open, well lit and fairly well indicated. There were some security people in the station and some police as well. However, reinforcement was arriving at 23:30 to help to control the large crowds that were expected to arrive to celebrate Sant Joan’s Eve at the Castelldefels beach, next to Barcelona. The accident occurred 7 minutes before they arrived, at 23:23.

The facts seem to indicate that the victims decided to leave the platform by crossing over the train tracks as the underpass tunnel was very crowded. The celebration mood probably made them unwilling to wait, so they stepped down from the platform to the train tracks in order to reach the station’s exit. This was the moment that the high-speed train passed by and ran into the crowd.

Initial witnesses said that signs forbidding people to cross over the tracks were not visible enough. In addition, they claimed that the announcement alerting that a train was passing by without stopping could barely be heard.