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Madrid: 'This is a massacre'
Updated: 2004-03-12 09:13

Survivors of the deadly bombings on Madrid's rail network described scenes of chaos and panic in the Spanish capital.

The powerful blasts hit at the height of morning rush hour Thursday, ripping through at least one commuter train and rocking at least three stations.

"This is a massacre," The Associated Press quoted government spokesman Eduardo Zaplana as saying.

People in tears walked away from the city's main Atocha station in droves as rescue workers carried bodies covered in sheets of gold fabric.

Many people with bloodied faces sat on curbs, using mobile phones to tell loved ones they were alive.

"There were people destroyed, blown up, without legs," AP quoted emergency worker Oscar Romero as saying.

"There were two cars in pieces with bodies underneath," said Romero, an emergency medical worker who arrived at Atocha an hour after the bombs went off.

"We had to pick up bits of people and put them on stretchers. It's the worst I've ever seen in this job."

Shards of twisted metal were scattered by rails in the Atocha station at the spot where an explosion severed a train in two.

"I saw many things explode in the air, I don't know, it was horrible," Juani Fernandez, 50, a civil servant who was on the platform to take the train to go to work, told AP.

"People started to scream and run, some bumping into each other and as we ran there was another explosion. I saw people with blood pouring from them, people on the ground."

Hospitals were appealing for people to donate blood.

Cesar Gomez, a Madrid rescue official, said there was a "multitude" of injured at the city's main Atocha station, AP reported.

A woman who lives near the El Pozo station on the line leading to Atocha said "the scene I am seeing is hellish. People running toward Atocha however they can," AP reported.

The woman said she saw a boy or young man on the ground who appeared to have died.

"I can see people inside the remains of the train," the unidentified woman told Spanish National Radio.

The government convened anti-ETA rallies nationwide for Friday evening ahead of Saturday's national election, AP reported. The Basque separatist group is being blamed for Thursday's bombings.

The blasts destroyed two train cars arriving at Madrid's Atocha station.

"What a horror," said the Basque regional president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, who insisted ETA does not represent the Basque people.

"When ETA attacks, the Basque heart breaks into a thousand pieces," he said in the Basque capital Vitoria.

"This is one of those days that you don't want to live through," said opposition Socialist party spokesman Jesus Caldera.

"ETA must be defeated," referring to the group as "those terrorists, those animals."

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