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Tears at deadly Spain crash site

A steady stream of people, many with tears in their eyes, flocked Saturday to the site of Spain’s deadliest train crash in decades and stared in silence at the wreckage.

“We thought everything had been cleaned up and we just saw that the first carriage is still there,” said Celia Rosende as she pointed to the locomotive still lying on the rails, its windshield smashed, at the crash site just outside Santiago de Compostela.

“It gives you the shivers to think of everything that people experienced here that terrible night.”

Rosende, who works at the University of Santiago, stopped by at the crash site with her husband and a couple of friends while on the way to the centre of the city. Her 81-year-old mother stayed in the car.

“She prefers not to see this,” said Rosende.

Couples, groups of friends, families with children have come to the accident site since the train derailed on Wednesday night, killing 78 people and injuring 178 others, to look at the wreckage and clean-up operation from a small bridge that crosses the track.

Four bouquets of flowers lay on the bridge.

“We are a small town with wonderful people,” read a note attached to one of the bouquets in a tribute to the people of Angrois, a hamlet on the outskirts of the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, who rushed to the scene of the crash to pull injured people from the carriages.

At the disaster site a piece of a damaged carriage has been placed on a freight train that is parked beside it.

Behind it a large crane that has been deployed to the site to help remove the damaged carriages from the tracks sits idle, protected by a police barrier.

“It’s horrible, horrible,” Maria Lourdes Torreira, 56, said softly as tears welled up in her eyes.

“If I had arrived here and found injured people laying on the ground, I think I couln’t have handled it. You have to be really courageous to come here and risk your life to help,” she added.

The investigation has focused on the train’s detained driver who reportedly boasted of his love for speed online and who faced possible charges of “reckless homicide.”

Just as it begins to rain, adding to the somber mood, a young couple in their thirties who work at a local funeral home arrived at the site.

The couple, who declined to give their names, said they were called in to work shortly after the accident and had worked round-the-clock until Friday night.

“It still has not sunk in,” the man said before leaving the site hand in hand with his partner.