Wrecked carriages sit at a train depot in Padron, near Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013 after they were taken there from the scene of a train accident. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spanish train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (AP) — Investigations into Spain's deadliest train crash in decades have only begun, but already a key question has been answered: Experts said Friday that the driver, not a computer, was responsible for applying the brakes because no "fail-safe" system has been installed on the dangerous stretch of bending track.

The question of whether the brakes failed — or were never used — in the approach to Santiago de Compostela may remain open until police can question the injured driver and analyze the data on the train's just-recovered "black box."

Police announced they had arrested 52-year-old Francisco Jose Garzon Amo on suspicion of reckless driving because the train hit the turn Wednesday traveling far faster than its posted 80 kph (50 mph) limit. The train's eight carriages packed with 218 passengers tumbled off the tracks into a concrete wall, and diesel fuel powering the engine sent flames coursing through some cabins.

As the first funeral ceremonies began Friday night, authorities working from a sports arena-turned-morgue announced they had positively identified 75 of the 78 people killed in the crash.

They lowered the death toll from 80 after determining that some severed body parts had wrongly been attributed to different victims. They said five of the dead came from Algeria, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Mexico and the United States.

Adif, Spain's railway agency, confirmed that a high-tech automatic braking program called the European Rail Traffic Management System was installed on most of the high-speed track leading from Madrid north to Santiago de Compostela — but the cutting-edge coverage stops just 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of where the crash occurred, placing a greater burden on the driver to take charge.

Adif spokeswoman Maria Carmen Palao said the driver from that point on had sole control of brakes and when to use them. She said even European Rail Traffic Management technology might not have been powerful enough to stop a speeding train in time.

"Regardless of the system in place, the drivers know the speed limits. If these are respected, an accident should not take place," she said. "Whatever speed the train was traveling at, the driver knows beforehand what lies ahead. ... There's no sudden change in which a driver finds out by surprise that he has to change speed."

Gonzalo Ferre, Adif's president, said the driver should have started slowing the train 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) before the dangerous bend, which comes immediately after the trains exit a tunnel.

He said signs clearly marked this point when the driver must begin to slow "because as soon as he exits the tunnel he needs to be traveling at 80 kilometers per hour."

Spain's state-run train company, Renfe, described Amo as an experienced driver who knew the Madrid-Santiago route well. It said he had driven that train about 60 times in the past year.

"The knowledge of this line that he had to have is exhaustive," Renfe's president, Julio Gomez-Pomar, said in a TV interview.

A senior Spanish train driver, Manuel Mato, said all drivers who operate on that route know they "have to reduce the speed manually, and at this spot the drop is very sharp." He said the track south of the tunnel is straight and permits speeds of up to 200 kph (125 mph).

An American passenger, Stephen Ward, said he was watching the train's speed on a carriage display screen — and reported that the train accelerated, not slowed, as it headed for disaster.

He said moments before the crash, the display indicated 194 kph (121 mph), more than double the speed limit, whereas earlier in the journey, he saw speeds averaging nearer 100 kph (60 mph).

Ward, an 18-year-old Mormon missionary from Utah, told The Associated Press that seconds after he saw the surprisingly high speed, "the train lifted up off the track. It was like a roller coaster." He recalled a backpack falling from the rack above him as his last memory before being knocked out.

When Ward awoke, he said someone helped him crawl out of a ditch. He thought he was dreaming until he felt his blood-drenched face and began to grasp the scene around him.

"Everyone was covered in blood. There was smoke coming up off the train," he said. "There was a lot of crying, a lot of screaming. There were plenty of dead bodies. It was quite gruesome."

On Friday, workers gradually cleaned up the disaster scene. Hundreds of onlookers watched as crews used a crane to hoist smashed and burned-up cars onto flat-bed trucks to cart them away.

However, the shattered front engine remained beside the track, though lifted back upright. Passenger trains, many of them the identical Alvia model, passed by the spot just yards (meters) away.

At night, grieving families gathered for the first funerals near Santiago de Compostela, a site of Catholic pilgrimage that had been preparing to celebrate its most revered saint, Jesus' disciple James, whose remains are said to rest in a shrine in the city. Annual festivities planned for Thursday were canceled.

Jaime Iglesias, police chief of Spain's northwest Galicia region, said Amo would be questioned "as a suspect for a crime linked to the cause of the accident." When asked, Iglesias described Amo's alleged offense as "recklessness." He declined to elaborate.

The driver, who suffered a gashed head in the crash, was put under police guard but has yet to be interviewed. That might be delayed because of his injuries, Iglesias said.

Renfe said Amo is a 30-year employee of the state train company, who became an assistant driver in 2000 and a fully qualified driver in 2003.

Antonio del Amo, chief scientific officer of Spain's National Police, cautioned that the death toll could be revised as they continue their work DNA-testing body parts on what they believe are three unidentified victims.

Catholic Church authorities in the U.S. state of Virginia identified the dead American as Ana Maria Cordoba, 47. She had been traveling to Santiago de Compostela to meet up with her youngest son, also named Santiago, who had just completed the area's celebrated religious trek through the mountains of northern Spain: El Camino de Santiago, or "The Way of St. James."

The New York Daily News reported that Cordoba's husband and daughter also were on the train but survived, with the husband sustaining skull injuries and the daughter a broken leg.

The Dominican government identified its victim as Ynoa Rosalina Gonzalez, 42, a senior official in the country's Economy Ministry. It said Gonzalez' two sisters provided DNA samples to confirm the identity of the body.

Spain, a country of 47 million with extensive and popular train services, also has a history of terrible crashes.

Much of the Spanish and international media have described the crash as Spain's worst since 1944, but this reflects disputed public records that Spain has kept of some previous crashes.

According to Spain's highest-circulation newspaper, El Pais, this is the nation's most deadly train crash since 1972, when an express train collided with a local commuter service and killed 86. Others say 76 or 77 died, which would make its death toll marginally lower than Wednesday's calamity.

The 1944 crash is murkier. The Franco dictatorship at the time sought to suppress news of the full death toll when three trains collided in a tunnel, insisting that 78 perished. Later investigations put the toll above 500.

_____

Giles reported from Madrid. Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City, Utah; Alan Clendenning and Harold Heckle in Madrid; and Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin contributed to this report.

More images from this article

In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, Wounded people are evacuated at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Spanish police on Friday detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain, lowered the death toll from 80 to 78 and took possession of the

In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Police say they have detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain and killed 78 people. Galicia region National Police Chief Jaime Iglesias says driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo was officially detained in the hospital where is recovering. (AP Photo/La Voz de Galicia/Monica Ferreiros)

Wrecked carriages sit at a train depot in Padron, near Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013 after they were taken there from the scene of a train accident. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spanish train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

This undated handout photo provided by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Va., shows Ana Maria Cordoba. Catholic Church officials say an employee of a diocese outside Washington, D.C., was among the 80 people who died in the Spain trash crash this week. The Diocese of Arlington says on its Facebook page that Ana Maria Cordoba, an administrative employee from northern Virginia, died in the wreck. (AP Photo/Catholic Diocese of Arlington)

Police and security officers look at a wrecked carriage in a train depot in Padron, near Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013 after it was taken there from the scene of a train accident. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spanish train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

This Thursday, July 25, 2013 photo provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shows young Mormon missionary from Utah, Stephen Ward, 18, hospitalized. Ward was among the survivors of the Spain train crash that left 80 dead. (AP Photo/The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Scott Jackson)

A couple comfort each other outside a makeshift morgue in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spain train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Brais Lorenzo)

In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, victims are seen at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Spanish police on Friday July 26 2013 detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain, lowered the death toll from 80 to 78 and took possession of the

Passengers leave an 'Alvia' type train after it arrived at the station in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013. The 'Alvia' train, the same as the one that crashed Wednesday is the first to operate on this line after the accident. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spain train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Brais Lorenzo)

A woman places a candle on the outside of the cathedral for the victims of the train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spanish train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by two men as he is evacuated from the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Police say they have detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain and killed 78 people. Galicia region National Police Chief Jaime Iglesias says driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo was officially detained in the hospital where is recovering. (AP Photo/La Voz de Galicia/Xoan Soler)

This image taken from security camera video shows a train derailing in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday July 25, 2013. Spanish investigators tried to determine Thursday why a passenger train jumped the tracks and sent eight cars crashing into each other just before arriving in this northwestern shrine city on the eve of a major Christian religious festival, killing at least 77 people and injuring more than 140. (AP Photo)

This aerial image taken from video shows a general view of the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday July 25, 2013. The death toll in a passenger train crash in northwestern Spain rose to 77 on Thursday after the train jumped the tracks on a curvy stretch just before arriving in the northwestern shrine city of Santiago de Compostela, a judicial official said. (AP Photo)

A passenger 'Alvia' type train pulls into the station in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013. The 'Alvia' train, the same as the one that crashed Wednesday is the first to operate on this line after the accident. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spain train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. Analysis will be performed to determine why the train was traveling far above the speed limit when it crashed near a station in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern Galicia region, said court spokeswoman Maria Pardo Rios. The train’s operator remained hospitalised Friday and will be questioned by police but she said the interview will not happen Friday. (AP Photo/Brais Lorenzo)

Relatives of the victims involved in Wednesday's train accident react at a victims information point in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday, July 25, 2013. Relatives of victims from a train crash in northwestern Spain sobbed and hugged each other Thursday near a makeshift morgue in a sports arena for the victims as the death toll rose to 78 and investigators tried to determine the cause. The train jumped the tracks and at least one passenger told a radio station that it appeared to be going very fast as it went into a pronounced curve while approaching the station in this Catholic shrine city on the eve of a major religious festival. (AP Photo/ Salome Montes)

A firefighter uses and axe to open their way inside a train car at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday, July 25, 2013. An Associated Press analysis of video images shows that a Spanish train was traveling well above the speed limit when it derailed, killing at least 80 people. Officials say the speed limit on that section of track is 80 kph (50 mph). (AP Photo/Lalo Villar)

Detailed graphic shows and locates train derailment accident in Spain; 3c x 4 1/2 inches; 146 mm x 114 mm;

ALTERNATIVE CROP FROM EM102. In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by two men as he is evacuated from the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Police say they have detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain and killed 78 people. Galicia region National Police Chief Jaime Iglesias says driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo was officially detained in the hospital where is recovering. (AP Photo/La Voz de Galicia/Xoan Soler)

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe, right and Princess Letizia meet with residents of the village of Angrois, near the train crash site just outside of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Friday July 26, 2013. The Spanish royals met with the villagers, some who were first on the scene to help pull passengers out of the wreckage. Investigators have taken possession of the “black boxes” of the Spain train that hurtled at high-speed along a curve and derailed, killing 80 people, a court official said Friday. (AP Photo/Brais Lorenzo)

In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, A woman is evacuated from a train car at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Spanish police on Friday detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain, lowered the death toll from 80 to 78 and took possession of the