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Spanish rail crash toll lowered, injured improving: official

Authorities Saturday reduced the death toll of a horrific railway accident in northeast Spain from 13 to 12 and said the ten injured still in hospital were improving.

An express train slammed into a group of revellers as they crossed a railway track to go to a beach party at Castelldefels, just south of Barcelona, on Wednesday night, instead of using a congested underpass.

The accident left badly mutilated remains which experts were finding difficult to identify.

The Catalonian regional high court said Saturday that DNA tests had managed to confirm 12 dead and not 13.

Catalonia’s justice minister said Friday that most of the casualties were Latin American immigrants. Nine of those killed had been identified as five from Ecuador, two from Bolivia and two from Colombia.

“There is one body, or human remains, which will be very difficult to identify,” Montserrat Tura told a news conference.

The regional government’s health department said Saturday that of those still in hospital two were in serious condition, two were less badly hurt and six were lightly injured.

“All the injured are progressing favourably,” a statement said.

The accident happened as about 30 people who had got off a local train at the Castelldefels Playa station, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Barcelona, tried to cross the tracks just before midnight.

A footbridge over the tracks had been closed for a year for renovations and an underpass quickly became filled with the hundreds of people who got off the local train.

They were heading to a party on a beach for the annual San Juan festival that celebrates the start of the summer in parts of Spain and which includes bonfires, fireworks and dancing.

A passenger train travelling to Barcelona from the southeastern city of Alicante ploughed into the group on the tracks.

The Spanish government has blamed the tragedy on the “recklessness” of those crossing the tracks, and El Pais daily said Saturday that initial investigations had backed this up.

But survivors said the underpass was not indicated and people who found the footbridge closed did not know of its existence.