Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jul 25, 2013 / 02:30 am
Pope Francis is praying for the victims and families of the 77 people who have died in a train derailment near the Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday evening.
During a July 24 evening press conference in Rio de Janeiro, the Vatican press office director, Father Federico Lombardi, said the Pope has been informed of the tragic accident, which "deeply moved" him and he is now praying for all the victims and their relatives.
Fr. Lombardi also asked the journalists present to observe one minute of silence for the victims of Spain's deadliest train crash since 1972.
Cardinal Antonio María Rouco of Madrid, who was the archbishop of the Santiago de Compostela for 10 years, called the Pope to tell him the news because he felt terrible about it and "wanted to talk to the Pope with all his heart," Fr. Lombardi said.
The current Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Julián Barrio Barrio, said he is "shocked" at the horrific accident and that it has left him "almost speechless."
In response, he is giving "all his support to the families of the victims, in these difficult times" and is "raising up his prayers for the deceased."
The city has also canceled the festivities for the Feast of St. James, which is the most important feast of the year for the archdiocese and the region.
Maria Pardo Rios, spokeswoman for the Galicia region's main court, told the Associated Press that 73 people were found dead at the scene of the accident and four have died in hospitals. The numbered of injured is around 141 out of the 218 passengers.
The incident occurred at 8:41 p.m. on Wednesday evening when the train was about three or four kilometers (2 miles) away from the Santiago de Compostela station, according to a July 25 statement from the train operator Renfe.
Spanish journalist Miguel-Anxo Murado told the BBC's John Humphrys that "the train driver admitted to going too fast," and explained that he was traveling more than double the speed limit for the stretch of track he was on.
The train's speed sent its eight carriages careening off the track so violently that some cars landed upside down and at least one was split in half.
Estefania Aguirre contributed to this report from Rio de Janiero.