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Death Toll Rises in Spain Train Derailment

MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images(SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain) -- A massive train derailment in northwestern Spain Wednesday evening has left at least 80 people dead, including one U.S. citizen, and more than 100 injured.

At least five U.S. citizens are among the injured, State Department officials confirmed Thursday.  Their identities have not yet been released.

A preliminary investigation suggested that excessive speed might have played a role in the crash two miles from the station at Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the region of Galicia, which is near Portugal.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the train was going 110 mph in a stretch where it was only supposed to be traveling 50 mph.

The express train, which was carrying 218 passengers, was not the highest-speed model although it traveled on high-speed tracks.

Witnesses said that between 10 and 13 cars overturned when the train derailed.  One car reportedly went as high as 15 feet in the air and was found 45 feet from the track.

In a statement Thursday, President Obama said he and first Lady Michelle Obama were “shocked and saddened” by the news of the accident.

“On behalf of the American people, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of the more than 80 people who lost their lives,” the president said. “We extend our wishes for a full recovery to those who were hurt.  We also offer our heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Spain and to the rescue personnel who are working to locate the missing and treat the injured – including at least six Americans.

“Today the American people grieve with our Spanish friends, who are in our thoughts and prayers,” he continued. “We stand ready to provide any assistance we can in the difficult days ahead.”

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