AT least 45 people are reported to have been killed, and dozens injured, after a train derailed outside the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.
The Madrid-Ferrol train, operated by state railway company Renfe, was carrying at least 218 passengers when all 13 carriages came off the tracks
The head of the regional Galician government, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, confirmed the number of deaths. "There are bodies lying on the railway track. It's a Dante-esque scene," he said in a radio interview.
The national government said it was working on the basis that it was an accident.
Train wagons lay on their sides with smoke billowing from the wreckage after it was reported to have caught fire when the train derailed at high speed.
"It seems that on a curve the train started to twist, and the wagons piled up one on top of the other," one passenger, Ricardo Montesco, told Cadena Ser radio station. "I was in the second wagon and there was fire ... I saw corpses."
Another witness told the station they had heard an explosion before seeing the derailed train. The accident was reported in the neighbourhood of Angrois around 8.42pm (local time).
The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, held an emergency meeting with his ministers on Wednesday night and he would visit the site on Thursday morning, his spokeswoman added.
"I want to express my affection and solidarity with the victims of the terrible train accident in Santiago," he tweeted.
The crash happened a day before a local holiday in the region.
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