Up to 56 people have been killed after a passenger train derailed on a high-speed stretch of track in north-western Spain last night, according to reports.
Spain’s Cadena SER radio station cited the president of Galicia’s main court, Miguel Angel Cadenas, at the scene saying 56 people were killed, but that could not be independently confirmed.
The station said three carriages were still to be inspected by rescue workers.
Earlier Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the region of Galicia, said at least 35 people aboard the train were killed.
State-owned train operator Renfe said in a statement that 218 passengers and an unspecified number of staff were on board at the time of the accident.
Renfe, which did not give a death or injury toll, said the derailment happened at 8.41pm local time on a high-speed section that was inaugurated two years ago.
SER cited unnamed local government officials as saying 100 people were injured but there were no details on the severity of the injuries.
Feast day festivities planned in the city of Santiago de Compostela, near where the train derailed, were cancelled, town hall spokeswoman Maria Pardo told Spanish National television TVE.
A photographer at the scene said he saw dozens of what appeared to be dead bodies being extracted from the wreck by emergency workers.
TVE showed footage of what appeared to be several bodies covered by blankets alongside the tracks next to the damaged train wagons and rescue workers entering toppled carriages through broken windows.
The accident occurred near the station in Santiago de Compostela, 60 miles south of El Ferrol, the final destination of the train. Rescue workers were also seen in the television images caring for people still inside some of the wagons.
Television footage showed one wagon pointing upwards into the air with one of its ends twisted and disfigured. Another carriage that had been severed in two could be seen lying on a road near the track.
The train, which belongs to the state-owned Renfe company, started its journey in Madrid. Although it was not an AVE high speed train, it was a relatively luxurious version that uses the same track as Spain’s fastest expresses.
It was Spain’s deadliest train accident in decades. In 1944, a train travelling from Madrid to Galicia crashed and killed 78 people.
Another accident in 1972 left 77 dead on a track to south-western Seville, according to Spanish news agency Europa Press.
King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a native of Galicia, both offered their condolences. Mr Rajoy said he would visit the site later today.