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Spain holds memorial for victims of train disaster

Spanish dignitaries have joined grieving families for a memorial service in honor of the 79 people killed in the nation's worst train disaster in decades. The driver has been charged with negligent homicide.

Members of the Spanish royal family and government gathered in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on Monday to remember the dozens of victims of Wednesday's crash.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia, Princess Elena, and ambassadors of other countries whose citizens were killed or injured attended the service alongside victims' families, rescuers and policemen. Ordinary citizens queued to attend the service or watched from big screens outside.

"Families who have lost your loved ones, from the first moment we have had you in our hearts, as have Galicia and Spain, and so many people beyond our borders who have asked me to pass on their condolences," the archbishop of the city, Julian Barrio. told the congregation.

"We commend our brothers to the mercy of God."

Locals and well-wishers have left flowers, candles and messages of condolence at the gates of the cathedral, which is located near the site of the accident in the northwestern region of Galicia.

Driver charged

The driver of the train, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, who stands accused of causing the accident, was provisionally charged Sunday with multiple cases of negligent homicide and released on bail.

The court statement said Garzon Amo must report to court every week and that he is forbidden from leaving Spain for the next six months. He was not sent to jail or required to post bail because none of the parties involved felt he was a flight risk.

The high-speed train, carrying 218 passengers in eight cars, was reportedly traveling well over the 80 kilometer-per-hour (50 miles per hour) speed limit before hitting a curve, derailing and slamming into a concrete wall. According to the Spanish rail agency, the brakes should have been applied four kilometers before the curve.

The 79 nine people confirmed dead included several Latin Americans and two US citizens. Most of the dead were buried over the weekend.

At least 22 people remain in hospital in a critical condition.

ccp/pfd (AFP, Reuters, AP)