Associated France Press 3/7/2006
More than 30 killed as Valencia metro train derails
MADRID (AFP) - More than 30 people have been killed when a metro train derailed in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia in an apparent accident, as pilgrims gathered ahead of a papal visit, regional officials said.
An interior ministry spokesman said any terrorist link had been "completely ruled out" after the derailment, one of the worst metro accidents in the past 50 years.
"Everything indicates that it was an accident, that the train derailed and was hurled against the walls of a tunnel," the spokesman told AFP.
A fire brigade spokesman said earlier that two carriages of the train had come off the rails in a tunnel.
"We are still in the process of identifying the dead, but according to an initial estimate there are more than 30," regional government spokesman Vicente Rambla told local reporters, radio Cadena Ser reported.
Authorities said there were around 15 people seriously injured.
The fire brigade spokesman said that rescue services had evacuated all the remaining passengers trapped in the metro train between the Jesus and Plaza de Espana stations in the city centre.
The accident happened as Valencia was filling up with participants for the Roman Catholic Church's fifth World Family Meeting this week, which is due to be closed by Pope Benedict XVI at the weekend.
According to the Valencia metro website, the regional government-run company was distributing half-a-million passes to pilgrims and organisers of the event to permit them to travel freely on the system's four lines.
"It seems it was an accident that was apparently brought about by speed and a failure at the wheel level," Luis Felipe Martinez, a government official in Valencia, told Cadena Ser radio.
It was a passenger on board who alerted emergency services at 1:03 pm (1103 GMT). Access to the area was sealed off and a security cordon installed.
The worst metro accident in recent history was in 1995 in Azerbaijan, when 290 people were killed and more than 270 injured after a fire on board a train between two stations in the capital Baku.
In 1961, 33 people died when a suburban train collided with a metro in the northern German city of Hamburg.
In 1975, driver error caused an underground train to crash in London, killing 43 people and injured more than 100 others.
The same year two metro trains hurtled into each other in Mexico City, with a death toll of 23.
Two years later three Chicago metro trains crashed onto the street, leaving 11 dead and 200 injured, after derailing from an elevated track.
In 1982, an escalator accident at a Moscow underground rail station killed at least 10 people, although there was never any official confirmation of the incident from the Soviet authorities of the era.
In 1987, a blaze on the underground rail section of London's main King's Cross rail station killed 31 and injured 150.