Fire out on Gulf well that ‘snuffed itself out’View gallery JANET McCONNAUGHEY and KEVIN McGILL 6 hours ago NatureNatural gasGulf of Mexico NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A drilling rig that caught fire after a natural gas blowout in the Gulf of Mexico appears stable now that the fire is out, and there was no sign of any oil sheen on a fly-over Thursday morning, a rig company executive said.”The well essentially snuffed itself out,” said Jim Noe, a vice president with the rig owner Hercules Offshore Inc., speaking in a telephone interview.The well had blown wild Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of 44 workers. The rig caught fire Tuesday night and part of it collapsed.The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced Thursday morning that the well had clogged with sand and sediment, a process called „bridging over” that Noe said can commonly happen with shallow water wells.Now, officials are focusing efforts on permanently plugging the well and finding out why it blew wild — including why the blowout preventer system on the rig failed to stop the accident.View gallery.”In this Wednesday, July 24, 2013 photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard, abatement efforts underway …There were no injuries when the blowout occurred about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast at a well operated by Walter Oil & Gas.When the fire was raging, officials said they were preparing to drill a relief well nearby to divert the gas and end the blowout and fire. Such a step is probably not necessary now that the fire is out and the well has bridged over, said Adam Bourgoyne, an industry consultant and a former dean of Louisiana State University’s petroleum engineering department.He said finding some way to seal or cap the well permanently will be much easier now. Well control experts should now be able to get close to the rig and examine it.”You never know anything for certain but usually if it bridges it doesn’t re-start,” Bourgoyne said.The rig is in 154 feet of water, relatively shallow in terms of offshore drilling.View gallery.”A fire is seen on the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, We …The Hercules 265 was built in 1982. It was certified by the American Bureau of Shipping until September 2017 and by the Coast Guard through July 4, 2017, according to federal records. It also had a blowout preventer control system approved in November of 2010.In May, Hercules told its investors that Walter Oil & Gas was paying between $101,000 and $103,000 a day to rent the Hercules 265 for a 60-day period that was supposed to end July 25. After that Arena Energy was supposed to rent the rig for 90 days, paying $102,000 to $104,000 a day.Why the blowout prevention system did not prevent the blowout is part of the investigation. Neither Noe nor anyone else connected with the investigation would say anything about the probe so far.”Our efforts will now turn to, first, confirming the conditions at the well site, and then to assisting in Walter’s effort to permanently secure and seal the well. We will then focus on a precise analysis of the facts that led to this incident,” Noe said.The rig is called a „jackup rig” because it has four legs extending to the ocean floor to hold it up. Parts of the rig had collapsed as it burned Wednesday, but the structure remained intact.View gallery.A fire is seen on the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, We …Experts had said the environmental effect of the blowout was expected to be limited, even before the well was blocked and all 44 workers were safely evacuated.Because the well involved is a natural gas well, not an oil well, experts said the pollution threats were far less than those posed by some previous accidents.Federal inspectors said a light sheen was spotted around the rig Wednesday evening. But like one spotted shortly after the blowout began Tuesday, the sheen quickly dissipated.Gas wells often also have oil or other hydrocarbons as well as natural gas. Officials and scientists agree the latest accident should not be nearly as damaging as the BP oil spill, also in the Gulf of Mexico, that sent crude oil oozing ashore in 2010.Tuesday’s blowout occurred at a drilling rig next to a natural gas platform that wasn’t producing gas at the time. The rig was completing a „sidetrack well,” which drills into the same well hole under the platform. Such wells are used to access a different part of the gas reserve.View gallery.”A fire is seen on the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, We …_Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans and Jeff Amy in Jackson contributed to this report. NTSB: Southwest jet’s nose gear landed first
NASA Video: Watch US Heat Up by 2100By By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – The United States will be a much hotter place at the end of the 21st century, according to a new climate change visualization released by NASA this week.The video illustrates a small component of the upcoming National Climate Assessment, set to come out in 2014, which provides Congress with the most up-to-date information on the state of climate change in the country from more than 240 contributing climate scientists. The last report was published in 2009. Researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center teamed with scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C., to create a new video, which compares two different climate change scenarios: One in which atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase from today’s level of 400 parts per million to 550 ppm, and a second in which carbon dioxide levels double to 800 ppm. (Parts per million means that, for example, for every million molecules of air, 400 of them are carbon dioxide.) These carbon dioxide concentrations are based on high- and low-emissions scenarios proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and are based on a variety of factors, including potential world population growth, economic development and global commitment to sustainability. The first scenario would require some kind of mitigation and curtailment of greenhouse gas emissions, while the second would occur if emissions continued to increase.Both scenarios would result in significant temperature changes across the United States, according to NASA. The conservative scenario of 550 ppm could increase average U.S. temperatures by up to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (about 2 degrees Celsius) and the more extreme scenario of 800 ppm could heat the country up by 8 F (about 4 C). [Video: Dramatic Future U.S. Warming]Which scenario?These results are based on data compiled from 15 different climate models, and use the average temperature from 1970 through 1999 as a baseline for comparison.While the real outcome in 2100 remains unknown and will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of fossil fuels burned in coming decades, the latest research suggests that the more extreme scenario of 800 ppm is more likely. „It seems from the most up-to-date literature that the higher emissions scenario is what we are going towards,” said Laura Stevens, an NCDC scientist based at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites who was involved in creating the video. The 550 ppm scenario would require significant efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Stevens said, and the country has not yet taken the actions necessary to follow this lower-emissions path.By focusing the video on the United States, Stevens noted that these results may provide motivation for Americans to start thinking about adaptive strategies to prepare for change. „These visualizations communicate a picture of the impacts of climate change in a way that words do not,” Allison Leidner, a NASA scientist who coordinates NASA’s involvement in the National Climate Assessment, said in a statement. „When I look at the scenarios for future temperature and precipitation, I really see how dramatically our nation’s climate could change.”Depends on us-The average American emits about 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, according to climate scientist Michael Mann at Penn State University, who was not involved in the assessment.”If you condensed all of that gas into solid form and placed it on a scale it would weigh the same as two large male African elephants,” Mann told LiveScience. „That’s the huge mass of carbon that each of us is, on average, putting into the atmosphere.”For comparison, Mann noted that the average emissions across the entire world are closer to 4 metric tons, which amount to the size of one baby elephant. „If each of us could reduce our annual emissions to a small baby elephant, we’d go a long way towards making the cuts we need to stabilize carbon dioxide below dangerous levels,” Mann said.Mann remains optimistic that humans will rise to the occasion and take the steps necessary to reduce emissions, but said that the opportunity to do so is slipping away and that the time to act is now. The final National Climate Report will provide three chapters that address ways in which humans can adapt to these significant changes, as well as the actions that people can take to slow the rate of change. A draft of the report is currently available to the public online.Follow Laura Poppick on Twitter. Follow LiveScience on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Original article on LiveScience.Wed, Jul 24, 2013 6:14 PM EDT Private Astronaut Taxi Development Entering Final Phase By Dan Leone, Space News | SPACE.com – 12 hours ago WASHINGTON — NASA on July 19 released a draft solicitation for the fourth and final development phase of its Commercial Crew Program, which is still expected to result in a crewed space launch to the International Space Station from U.S. soil by late 2017, according to the document.The Commercial Crew Program is a NASA effort that subsidizes commercial development of systems to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. According to the draft solicitation, there would be two such flights per year, once NASA places its first task order for a crewed flight. Before NASA releases the final solicitation this fall, the agency will host a pre-solicitation conference with industry at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 1 and 2, according to the draft. As expected, the contract will be a fixed-priced deal administered under the Federal Acquisition Regulations. So far, NASA has mostly relied on funded Space Act Agreements to subsidize development of commercially designed spacecraft. While the competition is nominally free and open, it is generally believed that the companies with the best chance are those NASA is already funding as part of the third round of the Commercial Crew Program: Boeing Space Exploration Systems, Houston; Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems of Louisville, Colo.; and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif.Boeing and SpaceX are working on capsules, while Sierra Nevada has a lifting-body design. All three spacecraft could seat seven people. Boeing and Sierra Nevada plan to launch aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket, while SpaceX plans to use whatever iteration of its own Falcon 9 rocket is in operation in 2017. If the schedule and funding hold, the planned demo flight — part of what NASA is calling the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract — would be the first crewed orbital spaceflight launched from the U.S. since 2011, when the space shuttle program ended.NASA has repeatedly said it needs more than $800 million a year — hundreds of millions more than Congress has ever given the program — to meet the 2017 date and keep more than one company involved with the program.You can read the full Commercial Crew Program draft solicitation here.This story was provided by Space News, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Published on SPACE.com. Global Price Tag for Arctic Thawing: $60 Trillion By By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – Wed, Jul 24, 2013 2:41 PM EDT The beautiful, stark scenery of the Arctic may be priceless, but the warming of the region could come at a great cost to the world.The Arctic’s rapid warming could cost the global economy more than $60 trillion if melting permafrost releases huge quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, a new study finds. The cost nearly mirrors the $70 trillion size of the world economy in 2012.Permanently frozen ground, called permafrost, beneath the Arctic’s East Siberian Sea could belch out 50 billion tons of methane at any time, researchers said in an analysis published today (July 24) in the journal Nature. More than a trillion tons of methane is thought to be trapped in the Arctic Ocean’s icy marine sediments in the form of what are called methane hydrates, some of it in shallow water. As the Arctic sea ice cover shrinks and the Arctic Ocean warms, the frozen sediments may thaw and release the stored methane, said study co-author Peter Wadhams, an oceanographer at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. Plumes of methane gas have already been rising each summer in the East Siberian Sea, Wadhams said. „That’s an economic time bomb that’s not been realized at this stage,” said lead study author Gail Whiteman of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Because methane traps atmospheric heat 25 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide, a sudden Arctic methane release would have a catastrophic effect on the global climate, the study authors said. [What are Greenhouse Gases?] Adding 50 billion tons of methane to the atmosphere would hasten this century’s predicted 3.6-degree Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) global temperature rise by 15 to 35 years, the researchers said. (Climate negotiators hope to limit planetary heating by that 2-degree C target, though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses a range that goes up to 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F).)The global costs of climate change would come from sea level rise, extreme weather events, crop damage and resulting poorer health, the researchers said. Most of the financial damage is predicted to hit hardest in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. „Roughly 80 percent of the extra impacts will occur in developing countries. Developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change,” said study co-author Chris Hope, an economist at the University of Cambridge. The economic impact of the methane release was the same whether all of the gas was released in one giant burp or dribbled out across 30 years, the study found. „In nearly every case, the mean extra impact is close to $60 trillion,” Hope said.Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com. Melting Permafrost Found in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys By By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – Wed, Jul 24, 2013 1:00 PM EDT View PhotoThe Garwood Valley ice cliff in Antarctica.View PhotoIce cliff erosion since 2001. The solid white lines indicate infrared radiometer and sonic ranger field …View PhotoThe location of Garwood Valley in Antarctica.Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are home to the oldest ice on Earth. The first signs of the massive thaw disturbing the Arctic’s frozen ground have now appeared in one of these valleys, melting a glacier buried since the last Ice Age.The Dry Valleys are different from the rest of Antarctica. Their ice, some of which is millions of years old, is buried under scoured boulders and dust as fine as flour. The arid landscape looks like Mars and, until now, hadn’t changed much since the continent froze about 15 million years ago. „The Dry Valleys range from being somewhat stable to extremely stable in terms of landscape,” said Joseph Levy, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics.But in 2009, Levy said, helicopter pilot Dustin Black spotted a new feature in Garwood Valley, one of the Dry Valleys near McMurdo Research Station where he ferries scientists to and from research camps. „I discovered this huge chunk of buried ice that was beginning to melt,” Levy told LiveScience. „It was changing, and changing fast.” [Images of Melt: Earth’s Vanishing Ice] The melting ice is a stranded glacier, buried under lake and river sediments for at least 7,000 years. In the past few years, the thawing ground has formed a 50-foot-tall (15 meters) ice cliff that’s retreated by 30 feet (10 m), according to a study led by Levy published today (July 24) in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The thawing ground is melting as quickly as Arctic permafrost, Levy said. Permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, covers about 25 percent of the Northern Hemisphere, and some is thawing in warming regions.A crumbling ice cliff-„We’re seeing the first Arctic-style change to the permafrost in Antarctica, and it’s exciting and a little bit scary,” Levy said. „The Dry Valleys are host to a lot of very special climate records, and when the ice melts, it’s like someone going into a laboratory and breaking all of your experiments.” The unique Dry Valley ecosystem — which has adapted to the harsh, dry climate —could also be affected by the sudden influx of meltwater, Levy said.In 2001, the study’s baseline, about 2,800 cubic feet (80 cubic meters) of ice and sediment melted out of the buried glacier, the researchers found. Between January 2011 and January 2012, more than 388,000 cubic feet (11,000 cubic m) of the ice cliff disappeared.”You can see giant blocks calving off and tumbling down the cliff,” Levy said.Before the discovery, scientists thought the Dry Valleys were a sea of stability in the rapidly changing polar regions — seasonal freeze and thaw cycles neither added nor took away from the underlying permafrost. And unlike regions of Antarctica that are warming, temperatures in the Dry Valleys stayed the same or cooled in the past 20 years.The sun shines in But in their search to explain the sudden melting in Garwood Valley, Levy and his colleagues found one weather shift in the valley. For still-unknown reasons, the U-shaped gorge is baking under more intense sunlight. Weather stations record increased sunlight in the valley in recent years, which means more solar radiation is heating the thin, dark blanket of dirt on top of the frozen ground. The ice is effectively cooking underneath.”Right now, we have the observations that we are getting more sunshine reaching the ground, but we don’t have a good model as to why,” Levy said.He added that it’s unlikely that all of Antarctica’s Dry Valleys will start melting to the extent seen in Garwood Valley. Some have thicker sediment layers that insulate permafrost, instead of absorbing and transmitting heat. „There are parts of the deep interior Dry Valleys that seem very resistant to melting,” Levy said. The researchers plan to return to the Dry Valleys to conduct additional studies that will gauge how much future melting to expect from a predicted rise in local temperatures by the end of this century. „The ice cliff is kind of our crystal ball for the rest of the Dry Valleys,” Levy said.Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com. Police to question driver after Spanish train crash kills 80 Tracy Rucinski 4 hours ago SocietySantiago de CompostelaView gallery A fireman carries a wounded victim from the wreckage of a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern …By Tracy Rucinski SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (Reuters) – The driver of a Spanish train that derailed, killing at least 80 people, was under police guard in hospital on Friday after the dramatic accident which an official source said was caused by excessive speed.The eight-carriage train came off the tracks, hit a wall and caught fire just outside the pilgrimage destination Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night. It was one of Europe’s worst rail disasters.The source had knowledge of the official investigation into a crash which brought misery to Santiago on Thursday, the day when it should have celebrated one of Europe’s biggest Christian festivals.With the festivities canceled, hundreds of people went to the site of the wreck instead, where they watched cranes picking the mangled train carriages off the tracks.”My brother-in-law lives close by and was helping pull out people, dead and alive, all night. He’s very shaken. I’ve come now with some friends just to see how it all ends,” said Manuel Garcia, one of the curious onlookers.A judge in Santiago de Compostela, capital of the northern Spanish region of Galicia, was assigned to investigate the accident. The judge ordered police to question the train’s driver, named by local media as 52-year-old Francisco Jose Garzon.It was not clear what kind of injuries the driver had suffered. He was not arrested, but he was under a police guard at the hospital and the questioning was expected to take place on Friday.State train company Renfe said the driver was a 30-year veteran of the firm with more than a decade of train driving experience.Video footage from a security camera showed the train, with 247 people on board, hurtling into a concrete wall at the side of the track as carriages jack-knifed and the engine overturned.The train entered the bend at 190 km per hour (120 mph), according to local media reports. The speed limit on the curve was 80 km per hour (50 mph).Investigators were trying to find out why the train was going so fast and why security devices to keep speed within permitted limits had not slowed it down.The impact was so huge one carriage flew several meters into the air and landed on the other side of a concrete barrier. Bodies were strewn next to the tracks in the aftermath.Around 94 people were injured, 35 of them, including four children, in a serious condition, the deputy head of the regional government said.The dead included a U.S. citizen and a Mexican, and at least one British citizen was injured.WAITING FOR NEWS-Early on Friday, medical experts were still trying to identify 13 of the bodies, leaving distraught families to wait for definitive news.Spain’s rail safety record is better than the European average, ranking 18th out of 27 countries in terms of railway deaths per km traveled, the European Railway Agency said. There were 218 train accidents in Spain between 2008 and 2011, well below the EU average of 426 for the same period.The disaster happened at 8:41 p.m. (2:41 a.m. ET) on the eve of a festival dedicated to St. James, one of Jesus’s 12 disciples, whose remains are said to rest in Santiago’s centuries-old cathedral.The apostle’s shrine is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across the Pyrenees, which has been followed by Christians since the Middle Ages and has had a resurgence in popularity in recent decades.Even though the festival was canceled, pilgrims and tourists formed long lines to see the cathedral on Thursday.”It’s hard to make sense of a tragedy like this, especially on an occasion that is supposed to be joyous,” said Jan Roser, a Catholic priest from Germany who had made the pilgrimage and was in Santiago for the festival.Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a native of Galicia, visited the accident site and the main hospital on Thursday. He declared three days of official national mourning.King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia also visited the injured in hospital.”All of Spain is united in grief with the bereaved families,” the king said.(Additional reporting by Julien Toyer and Teresa Medrano; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham) Probe of deadly derailment focuses on train speedView gallery HERNAN MUNOZ 11 minutes ago SocietySantiago de CompostelaSpain SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (AP) — By all accounts, the train was going way too fast as it curled around a gentle bend. Then in an instant, one car tumbled off the track, followed by the rest of the locomotive, which seemed to come apart like a zipper being pulled.The derailment sent pieces of the sleek train plowing across the ground in a ghastly jumble of smashed metal, dirt and smoke.But a day after Spain suffered its deadliest rail disaster in decades — which killed 80 people and maimed scores of others — one question surpassed all others: Why was the train moving so fast?Investigators opened a probe Thursday into possible failings by the 52-year-old driver and the train’s internal speed-regulation systems.Experts said one, or both, must be at fault for the disastrous Wednesday night crash of the train that was carrying 218 passengers and five crew members to Santiago de Compostela, a destination of Catholic pilgrimage preparing to celebrate its most revered saint.View gallery.”This aerial image taken from video shows a general view of the site of a train accident in Santiago …Instead, this stunned city of nearly 100,000 converted its sports arena into a shelter for the dead and the grieving.”All Spaniards feel the pain of the families,” said Spain’s head of state, King Juan Carlos, as he and Queen Sofia met hospitalized survivors of the crash 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) south of Santiago de Compostela. The royal couple dressed in funereal black.”For a native of Santiago like me, this is the saddest day,” said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who toured the crash scene and declared a national three-day mourning period.The regional government of Galicia, in northwest Spain, said 94 people remained hospitalized, 31 of them in critical condition, including four children. The U.S. State Department said one American died and at least five others were hurt but cautioned that those figures could be revised upward.The American victim was identified by the Diocese of Arlington as Ana Maria Cordoba, an administrative employee from northern Virginia. She and her husband and daughter were traveling to visit her son, who had completed the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, according to Catholic News Service, a division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.View gallery.”Derailed cars are removed as emergency personnel work at the site of a train accident in Santiago de …Many victims suffered severe burns as the train’s diesel fuel ignited a fire that caught some passengers trapped in mangled upside-down carriages. Emergency officials took DNA samples from the most heavily burned or the unconscious in an effort to identify both the living and the dead.Rafael Catala, a senior transport official in Spain’s Development Ministry, told radio network Cadena SER that the train appeared to be going much faster than the track’s speed limit of 80 kph (50 mph) as it approached the city.Breathtaking footage of the crash captured by a railway security camera showed the moment when the eight-carriage train approached a left bend beneath a road bridge at a seemingly impossible speed. An Associated Press analysis of the video indicated the train hit the bend going twice the speed limit or more.Using the time stamp of the video and the estimated distance between two pylons, the AP calculated that the train was moving in a range of 144 to 192 kph (89 to 119 mph). Another estimate calculated on the basis of the typical distance between railroad ties indicated its speed was between 156 kph and 182 kph (96 to 112 mph).The anonymously posted video footage, which the Spanish railway authority Adif said probably came from one of its cameras, shows the train carriages buckling and leaving the tracks soon into the turn.View gallery.”Derailed cars are removed as emergency personnel work at the site of a train accident in Santiago de …Murray Hughes, consultant editor of Railway Gazette International, said a diesel-powered unit behind the lead locomotive appeared to derail first. The front engine quickly followed, violently tipping on to its right side as it crashed into a concrete wall and bulldozed along the ground.In the background, the rear carriages could be seen starting to decouple and coming off the tracks. The picture went blank as the engine appeared to crash directly into the camera.After impact, witnesses said, a fire engulfed passengers trapped in at least one carriage.”I saw the train coming out of the bend at great speed and then there was a big noise,” eyewitness Consuelo Domingues, who lives beside the train line, told The Associated Press. „Then everybody tried to get out of the train.”Other witnesses said nearby residents ran onto the tracks and worked to free survivors from the crumpled, flaming wreckage. Some were seen pounding rocks against windows, and one man wielded a pickaxe as survivors were pulled through shattered windows to safety.View gallery.”Emergency personnel work at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursd …Many aboard the train were Catholic pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela’s internationally celebrated annual festival honoring St. James, a disciple of Jesus whose remains are said to rest in a church shrine. Since the Middle Ages, the city has been the destination for Christian faithful walking the mountainous El Camino de Santiago trail, or „The Way of St. James.”Santiago officials canceled Thursday’s festivities and took control of the city’s indoor basketball arena to use as a makeshift morgue. There, relatives of the dead could be seen sobbing and embracing each other.The Interior Ministry ruled out terrorism as a cause.While sections of the Spanish press pointed an accusatory finger at the train driver, government officials and railway experts cautioned that a fault in systems designed to keep trains at safe speeds could be to blame.Jose Antonio Santamera, president of Spain’s College of Civil Engineering, said one of the train’s supposedly fail-safe mechanisms could have failed.View gallery.”Relatives of the victims involved in Wednesday’s train accident react at a victims information point …”The security system will detect any fault of the driver, (for example) if he has suffered a blackout and does not answer calls, and then starts the train’s security systems. So I almost rule out human error,” Santamera said.He said the crash happened at a point where one speed-regulating system gave way to another, suggesting a possible failure at the handover point.Spain’s lead investigator in the crash, Judge Vazquez Tain, ordered detectives to question the train driver.Train company Renfe identified the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, as a 30-year employee of the state rail company who became an assistant driver in 2000 and a fully qualified driver in 2003. The company said Amo took control of the train from a second driver about 100 kilometers (65 miles) south of Santiago de Compostela.Renfe’s president, Julio Gomez-Pomar Rodriguez, told Spain’s Cadena Cope radio network that the driver had worked on that route for more than one year.View gallery.”Relatives of victims involved in a train accident react at a victims information point in Santiago d …It was Spain’s deadliest train accident since 1972, when a train collided with a stationary carriage in southwest Spain, killing 86 people and injuring 112.”July 24 will no longer be the eve of a day of celebration but rather one commemorating one of the saddest days in the history of Galicia,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, regional president of Galicia. Santiago de Compostela is its capital.Passenger Sergio Prego told Cadena Ser the train „traveled very fast” just before it derailed and the cars flipped upside down, on their sides and into the air.”I’ve been very lucky because I’m one of the few able to walk out,” Prego said.The Alvia 730 series train started from Madrid and was scheduled to end its journey at El Ferrol, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Santiago de Compostela. Alvia operates high-speed services, but they do not go as fast as Spain’s fastest bullet trains, called AVEs.View gallery.”A woman reacts as relatives of victims of a train accident wait for news while gathering at an area …The maximum Alvia speed is 250 kph (155 mph) on tracks made especially for the AVEs, and they travel at a maximum speed of 220 kph (137 mph) on normal-gauge rails.Other Spanish train calamities include a 1944 accident involving three trains that crashed in a tunnel. That disaster produced wildly disputed death tolls ranging from the government’s official count of 78 to researchers’ later estimated tolls exceeding 500.In 2006, 43 people died when a subway train crashed because of excessive speed in the southern city of Valencia.In 2004, 191 died when al-Qaida-inspired terrorists detonated 10 bombs on four Madrid commuter trains.__View gallery.”Relatives of the victims involved in Wednesday’s train accident react at a victims information point …Online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ywaI50egqk___Associated Press writers Alan Clendenning, Ciaran Giles and Harold Heckle in Madrid, Panagiotis Mouzakis, Fisnik Abrashi and Robert Barr in London, Deb Riechmann in Washington, and Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin contributed to this report.