BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A Spanish commuter train crashed into a buffer early Friday at a station in northeastern Barcelona, tossing passengers to the floor and sending 53 people to the hospital, officials said.
Public Works Minister Inigo de la Serna, who visited the scene at the Francia station, said 56 people in all received medical treatment, with 53 taken to local hospitals. Regional health authorities said three of those people were seriously injured but their lives were not in danger.
By evening, health authorities said only 12 train passengers remained in the hospital.
The accident happened at 7:15 a.m. on a train that began at the coastal town of Sant Vicenc de Calders, south of Barcelona. The impact of the crash smashed the nose of the train and left it hanging off one side. More damage occurred between the train's first and second cars.
"When the train arrived at Francia station, it applied the brakes but at the same time it made a noisy crash," said passenger Said Saharaui. "The passengers were thrown to the floor."
De la Serna said the train's 31-year-old driver, who was among 19 people slightly injured, had seven years of service on commuter trains. He said the train had passed its most recent inspection on July 18.
A spokesman for the Catalan police told The Associated Press that the train's driver had passed a drug and alcohol test taken after the crash. He also said agents were examining the train's two black boxes and that it could take days to finish the investigation. The spokesman asked to remain anonymous as dictated by police policy.
The accident came as RENFE rail workers staged a one-day strike. The affected train was running as part of minimum services ordered by the Public Works Ministry.
Many people in Spain were beginning their summer holidays Friday, and Barcelona and surrounding towns were popular destinations. Besides Spaniards, those injured in the crash included two Frenchmen and people from Romania, Senegal, Ecuador, Morocco and Nicaragua, officials said.
Francia is Barcelona's second main train station after Sants, which handles the bullet train and most intercity services.
Associated Press writers Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Hernan Munoz in Barcelona contributed to this report.