MADRID — A train derailed in northwestern Spain late Wednesday, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke filled the air. At least 35 people were dead, regional authorities said.

The accident occurred on high-speed tracks near the train station in Santiago de Compostela. In television images, rescue workers were seen caring for people still in some of the wagons.

Alberto Nunez Feijoo, regional government president of northwestern Galicia, told Cadena SER radio that he did not have an exact death toll but that the figure “would not drop below 35.”

The train, which belongs to the state-owned Renfe company, was headed from Madrid to Ferrol, 60 miles north of Santiago de Compostela.

Officials at the Interior Ministry and the Adif rail infrastructure authority did not immediately answer telephone calls or return messages seeking comment. Officials with Renfe also did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

A photographer at the scene said he saw dozens of what appeared to be dead bodies being extracted from the wreck by emergency workers. Spanish National TV showed video of what appeared to be several bodies covered by blankets alongside the tracks next to the damaged wagons.

The photographer, Xabier Martinez, said he also spoke to two injured  passengers who said they felt a strong vibration before the derailing.

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