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Spain train crash survivor: 'I was calling out to my wife... people were dying'

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Spain train crash survivor: 'I was calling out to my wife... people were dying'


At midday on Friday another minute’s silence was held in Santiago de Compostela for the victims of the train disaster – one of many that took place in Galicia and across Spain.

This should have been festival time at the important Catholic pilgrimage site. But the tragedy looks set to overshadow everyday life for some time to come.

For the survivors, the shock of the crash is still very real.

The mayor said people who had been injured were making progress and some had been released from hospital.

Euronews spoke to Roberto Fariza, an American citizen with a Spanish grandfather. Three years ago he recovered from cancer.

Now he found himself caught up in another drama.

Filipa Soares, euronews: “You were in the train when it crashed?”

Roberto Fariza: “Yes, I was in the train. In carriage number seven.”

euronews: “Were you alone or with anyone?”

Roberto Fariza: “I was with my wife. We’d come here for the festival.”

euronews: “Tell us what you remember of the accident.”

Roberto Fariza: “It’s difficult for me to talk about it without getting emotional because it was so horrible. As the train was travelling along, we didn’t realise that it had started to lean over or the speed at which it was going, and that’s why it came off the rails. It happened so fast… it was a matter of seconds. Everything was dark. People were yelling. I was thrown against the side of the train as if I were a rubber ball… And my wife, she is now in a critical condition, she was under the seats, under three people, seats and luggage… And I was shouting to my wife, calling out to her, so that she would know, if she were conscious, that we were looking for her. She had a serious head injury, she was bleeding: she couldn’t see, her eyes were swollen. Her dress was nearly torn off.

“And then we began calling for help. People came from the local town and about ten of them carried her to the ambulance… The medical staff were choosing who they could help and there were people around us who were dying… a young man of 26 or 27, it seemed that he was kind of OK, but then he died. And then another young woman and a man… well, it was horrible.

“And I kept saying to my wife: breathe, breathe, don’t stop breathing. One, two, three, one, two, three… and it went on like that until we got to the hospital. Then for five hours I had no idea where she was. The only thing I could think was that she was being operated on.”

euronews: “You are injured as well…”

Roberto Fariza: “Yes, I am injured. I have this here (he shows one injury near his abdomen), and you can also see here (he shows another on his backside). And there are more in other places. Thank God not my face. Just some bumps on the head. The doctors are worried about some blood in my urine. They did some tests and I’m under observation.

euronews: “And where are you staying now?

Roberto Fariza: “In a hotel. We have no luggage. (He shows the clothes he is wearing) I bought this (T-shirt) today. The trousers belong to my son-in-law. I bought the socks, and the trainers are those I was wearing when the accident happened. And now, of course, we’re waiting for help from the US embassy. We don’t need much, just some money for our immediate needs.”

Roberta Fariza was talking to euronews’ Filipa Soares outside the University Hospital in Santiago de Compostela.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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