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Published: Monday, 7/3/2006

At least 30 killed as subway train derails in Spain


MADRID, Spain A subway train derailed and overturned in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia today, killing at least 30 people and injuring about a dozen, a regional government spokesman said.

The likely cause of the accident was that the train was traveling at high speed and one of its wheels broke off, local government spokesman Luis Felipe Martinez said. A tunnel wall also may have collapsed onto the carriage, investigators said, according to news reports.

Officials said the accident occurred on the No. 1 line of Valencia s subway system as it was leaving Jesus station in downtown Valencia, one of Spain s biggest cities with a population of 800,000. It is on the country s east coast, about 220 miles southeast of Madrid.

Some 150 people were evacuated from the station, and Spanish National Radio reported that all had been removed from the subway.

Initial investigations show it was an accident, said Vicente Rambla, spokesman for the Valencia regional government. He said there were at least 30 dead and a dozen people seriously injured.

Police cordoned off the area and an emergency mobile hospital was set up at the scene. Private TV station CNN-Plus showed emergency workers carrying the injured away on stretchers.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is on an official visit to India, may cut his trip short, his office said. He was in constant contact with officials.

King Juan Carlos expressed his condolences.

Hundreds of thousands of people have begun traveling to Valencia for this week s World Meeting of the Families, which will be attended July 8-9 by Pope Benedict XVI.

More than 60 million people used Valencia s subway system in 2005, according to the network s Web site, which averages out to some 165,000 people a day. The subway has four lines and 116 stations.

Recent mass transit accidents in Spain include one in Madrid in January 2005 in which about 20 people were slightly injured when a train with passengers bumped into an empty one at Madrid s Atocha station.

A more serious accident occurred in June 2003 when 19 people were killed and 48 injured in a head-on crash in central Spain. The crash, in which a passenger train collided with a freight train, occurred outside the station in the town of Chinchilla.

Bombs placed on commuter trains in Madrid by Islamic radicals killed 191 people in March 2004.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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