Modern day pilgrims … Prayers for those who have been injured or killed and for their families. Also prayers for the pilgrims who have had the joyous culmination of their trek forever changed.
The crash came on the eve of the famed religious festival held annually at Santiago de Compostela, where tradition has it that St. James, one of Jesus’ apostles, is buried. Local authorities said festival ceremonies planned for Thursday were canceled.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, toured the scene on Thursday and then visited injured passengers at a local hospital. Mr. Rajoy called it “the saddest Apostle’s Day of my life” and declared three days of national mourning.
The preliminary death toll surpassed that of a 1972 accident on a train connecting the cities of Cádiz and Seville that claimed 77 lives. The only more deadly train accident in Spain was a three-train collision in Leon province that claimed hundreds of lives in 1944. Researchers said the exact death toll in the Torre del Bierzo crash was hidden by the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco, who ruled at the time.