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Spanish investigators focus on speed in train crash

Written by: Staff
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VALENCIA, Spain, July 4 (Reuters) Spain was investigating today whether an underground train was going too fast when it derailed, killing 41 people, but the train drivers' union said bad maintenance could have caused the accident.

Valencia city authorities declared three days of mourning after yesterday's accident, Spain's worst underground crash, and said investigators wanted to examine the train's black box data recorder to determine the speed when the train derailed.

At least one survivor told Spanish media yesterday that the train had accelerated before braking suddenly just before the accident.

But Valencia's train drivers' union said it suspected bad maintenance and its chief, Fernando Soto, said the crash had occurred at spot which was too dangerous for drivers to go fast.

''No driver would be that crazy,'' he said.

Another survivor said terrified passengers had begun to shout ''an attack, an attack'', recalling the Islamist train bombings which killed 191 people in Madrid in 2004. Officials ruled out a terror attack as the cause of the crash.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero cut short a visit to India to fly home to attend funerals today evening in Valencia, which is preparing for a visit by Pope Benedict.

The city government said all safety procedures had been followed on metro line one, which was opened in 1988, and that the train had been checked on June 27.

Emergency workers used chains to try to drag out two carriages which shot off the rails on a bend in the tunnel just before entering the Jesus metro station.

Survivors described smashing train windows to stagger out into a dark tunnel littered with dead and dying.

''I closed my eyes. I didn't want to see what was happening,'' said Arturo Terol, 65.

Two people were in critical condition today and another 45 people were hurt.

REUTERS SRS PC1711

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