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Students, teachers, footballers: the lives of the 80 killed in Spanish train disaster

Pensioners, students, teachers, mechanics and footballers were amongst the 80 people listed as dead after Spain’s worst train crash in more than forty years. Most were preparing to celebrate a traditional mid-summer feast with local specialities such as octopus. Instead, many in Galicia were widowed and orphaned as the whole of Spain went into mourning.

Antonio Reyes had set off on Wednesday with his wife Rosa Quijano and their daughter Fátima, to meet friends in Santiago de Compostela who had just finished walking the arduous road trodden by pilgrims for centuries.

Travelling on board the train from Madrid with them were two couples, Esperanza Márquez and Francisco García, and Ignacio Bustamante and Josefa Álvarez. They were all looking forward to a long weekend beginning with the feast of St. James the Apostle on Thursday, a traditional holiday in the northwestern region of Galicia.

Of the seven, only Josefa and Fátima – who suffers from Down syndrome – survived when the train came off the rails at high speed on a tight bend 4 km before it was due to pull in to Santiago station on Wednesday night.

Mr Reyes was 60 and about to retire as a school teacher, while his wife Rosa worked as a bank clerk.  Mr Bustamante worked at the town hall in Cádiz, where all seven holidaymakers were from, and was well known for helping to organise the southern port city’s annual picturesque Easter processions. Ms Márquez and her husband Mr García also worked as school teachers.

“At first I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t get my head round the fact that I won’t see them again. Apart from teachers, they were friends, we used to stop and chat on the street,” a former pupil of Ms Márquez and Mr García, who gave his name as Abraham, told  state television.

Also on the list of 67 victims published late on Thursday – forensics had yet to confirm the identity of another 13 – was Tomás López Brión, 22, who played as a midfielder for nearby third division football team Deportivo La Coruña. He had been to pre-season training on Wednesday and boarded the train to be with his family.

The death toll could yet climb higher, because 32 out of the 87 people admitted to hospital from the crash are still in critical condition.

Red Cross volunteer worker Edwin Ynoa got the shock of his life on Wednesday night when he learned that among the victims of the crash he was seeking to help was his aunt, Rosalina Ynoa, who had flown over from the Dominican Republic  and taken the train to  pay him a surprise visit.

For many families who spent Thursday sitting in a support centre set up in a grim business park, the waiting just added to their grief. Many had traipsed from a make-shift morgue set up in a sports centre, to Santiago’s main hospital and government offices to see if missing relatives were dead or merely injured.

Three cousins of travelling salesman Manuel Suárez Rosende waiting outside the Cersia building were resigned to the worst, even though officials had not been able to confirm his fate. “He went to Madrid on Monday on business, as ever. He usually went by road or plane, but this time he said, ‘I’ll get the train’,” one of the relatives told journalists.


Category: World News |

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Last updated March 25, 2017 at 5:40 PM
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