Mass held for crash victims

by
02 August 2013

by Helen Saxbee

REUTERS

Sombre worship: Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia at the mass for the crash victims, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, on Monday

Sombre worship: Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia at the mass for the crash victims, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, on Mond...

A REQUIEM mass was held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on Monday for the 79 people who died in a high-speed rail crash on the outskirts of the city on Wednesday of last week.

The driver, Francisco Garzon, was arrested and charged on Thursday of last week with multiple counts of negligent homicide, amid suggestions that the train was going too fast. The train, travelling from Madrid to Ferrol, was derailed as it emerged from a tunnel on to a sharp bend in the track. After opening the train's "black box" recorder on Tuesday, investigators said that Mr Garzon had been speaking on the phone to a railway official immediately before the crash.

The Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and Prince Felipe were among mourners at the service on Monday.

"From the very first moment, the families that have lost their loved ones have been in our hearts, and the hearts of Galicia and Spain," the Archbishop of Santiago de Com- postela, the Most Revd Julián Barrio Barrio, said in his homily. The Archbishop said that he also held in his prayers the families of a fatal bus crash near Naples, on Sunday, when 38 people died.

Prince Felipe, his wife, Letizia, the Infanta Elena, Mr Rajoy, members of the cabinet, and regional leaders stood in the cathedral alongside many of the victims' families, and members of the emergency services.

Prayers and condolences from around the world have been sent to Spain. Pope Francis sent a telegram to Archbishop Barrio Barrio, expressing his "intense sorrow and his spiritual closeness" to all those suffering as a result of the crash.

On Friday, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, said: "The news of the horrific train crash near Santiago de Compostela, in which so many were killed and injured, has shocked all our congregations in Spain and Portugal. . . We commend to God those who have died, and pray for the be- reaved and injured."

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia visited survivors in hospital the day after the crash, praising what the King described as the spirit of citizenship shown by rescue workers and blood donors. "All Spanish people join in the sorrow of the relatives of the deceased," he said.

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