A train derailment in north-western Spain has left at least 80 people dead and more than 100 injured.

The crash happened near Santiago de Compostela as an express train travelling from Madrid to the coastal town of Ferrol left the track near the town's station, according to local media reports.

Regional government officials in Galicia have confirmed the death toll as rescue efforts continued throughout the night to free trapped survivors from the wreckage.

Spanish reports suggested the train may have been travelling at twice the speed limit when it crashed going around a corner, and a major investigation has been launched.

It's now known that all eight carriages left the tracks in what is thought to be one of Spain's worst-ever rail accidents.

spain train

Rescue workers treat survivors at the scene

Photographs published via a local newspaper's website appeared to show bodies near ruined carriages and rescue workers climbing over the wreckage.

The Foreign Office confirmed a British national had been injured in the crash, Sky News reported.

Rail firm Renfe, last night said that the train was carrying around 218 passengers. Alberto Nunez Feijoo, Leader of the regional government, described it as "a Dante-esque scene", in comments to a radio station, BBC News reported.

AFP news agency reports that hospitals were forced to make urgent appeals for blood donations as casualties were rushed from the scene. While many are thought to have died at the scene, up to four people reportedly died from their injuries in hospital.

The cause of the crash is still not known but eyewitnesses reports claim that the train was travelling very fast before it derailed.

El Pais newspaper cited investigation sources as saying the train was travelling over twice the speed limit on a sharp curve.

Santiago de Compostela is a well known as a tourist destination for its ancient Catholic pilgrimage route. The disaster comes ahead of Santiago de Compostela's festival honouring St James. Some of the injured and dead may have been travelling north for the festivities.

The festival which was due to take place on Thursday has now been cancelled.

"The train travelled very fast and derailed and turned over on the bend in the track," passenger Sergio Prego told Cadena Ser. "It's a disaster. I've been very lucky because I'm one of the few be able to walk out."

Another passenger, Ricardo Montero, told the radio station that "when the train reached that bend it began to flip over, many times, with some carriages ending up on top of others, leaving many people trapped below. We had to get under the carriages to get out".

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “I was very saddened to hear of the terrible train accident near Santiago de Compostela in Spain last night. My thoughts are with all those affected and their friends and family.

“The British Embassy team in Spain are working closely with the Spanish authorities as they respond to this tragedy.

“We know that one British citizen was injured in this accident and the Embassy has been providing consular support”.

The crash is one of the worst in Spain's history.

The Torre del Bierzo rail disaster in 1944 is thought to have killed anywhere between 78 and 500 people.

WARNING: Graphic images follow

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  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • A woman is evacuated by emergency personnel at the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • A wounded is evacuated by emergency personnel at the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A train derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night, toppling passenger cars on their sides and leaving at least one torn open as smoke rose into the air. Dozens were feared dead, with possibly even more injured. (AP Photo/ El correo Gallego/Antonio Hernandez)

  • An emergency rescuer walks along an derailed train in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday, July 25, 2013. A passenger train derailed Wednesday night on a curvy stretch of track in northwestern Spain, killing at least 40 people caught inside toppled cars and injuring at least 140 in the country's worst rail accident in decades, officials said. (AP Photo/ Lalo Villar)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers carry the body of a victim as other bodies covered with blankets lie on the ground, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers work on the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. Up to a 20 people died when a train derailed in northwestern Spain today, media reports quoting witnesses. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 24, 2013 shows derailed cars on the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Up to a dozen people died when a train derailed in northwestern Spain today, media reports quoting witnesses. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers work on the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. Between 15 and 20 people have died after a train derailed in northwestern Spain today, according to the El Pais and El Mundo dailies. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    ALTERNATIVE CROP Rescuers work on the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers work at the site of a train accident as the bodies of the victims, covered with blankets, lie on the ground, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    ALTERNATIVE CROP Rescuers work at the site of a train accident as the bodies of the victims, covered with blankets, lie on the ground, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers carry the body of a victim as other bodies covered with blankets lie on the ground, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers work at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / OSCAR CORRAL (Photo credit should read OSCAR CORRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers tend to victims next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. Between 45 and 50 people died when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / OSCAR CORRAL (Photo credit should read OSCAR CORRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 24, 2013 shows derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Between 45 and 50 people died when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / OSCAR CORRAL (Photo credit should read OSCAR CORRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers tend to a victim next to a derailed car at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / OSCAR CORRAL (Photo credit should read OSCAR CORRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 24, 2013 shows derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Between 45 and 50 people died when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / OSCAR CORRAL (Photo credit should read OSCAR CORRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers work at the site of a train accident as the bodies of the victims, covered with blankets, lie on the ground, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. Up to 50 people died and dozens were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today causing carriages to overturn and pile up on each other. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    ALTERNATIVE CROP A picture taken on July 24, 2013 shows derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Between 45 and 50 people died when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / OSCAR CORRAL (Photo credit should read OSCAR CORRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Spanish police officers stand near a body covered with a blanket at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. Up to 50 people died and dozens were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today causing carriages to overturn and pile up on each other. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 25, 2013 shows the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers stand near to the bodies of the victims of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. At least 35 people died and 200 people were injured when a train derailed in Galicia in northwestern Spain today, the president of the regional government of Galicia said. The train which carried 238 passengers originated in Madrid and was bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    People look at derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Rescuers, investigators and police officers stand at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 25, 2013 shows the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Spanish police officers walk next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela early on July 25, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    Investigators and police officers stand at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela early on July 25, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 25, 2013 shows the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 25, 2013 shows the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-ACCIDENT-TRAIN

    A police vehicle moves past a hearse carrying victims of a train accident to the morgue, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 25, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks on July 24, 2013 in northwest Spain killing at least 77 passengers and injuring more than 140, an official said today, the country's deadliest rail disaster in more than 40 years. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSO (Photo credit should read CESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-ACCIDENT-TRAIN

    Policemen stand next to a hearse carrying victims of a train accident to the morgue, near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 25, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks on July 24, 2013 in northwest Spain killing at least 77 passengers and injuring more than 140, an official said today, the country's deadliest rail disaster in more than 40 years. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSO (Photo credit should read CESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • SPAIN-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT

    A picture taken on July 25, 2013 shows derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela. A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on July 24 killing 60 passengers and injuring around 130 others, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region said. The train, carrying at least 200 passengers, had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Emergency personnel conduct rescue operation at the site of a train derailed in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday, July 25, 2013. A passenger train derailed Wednesday night on a curvy stretch of track in northwestern Spain, killing at least 40 people caught inside toppled cars and injuring at least 140 in the country's worst rail accident in decades, officials said. (AP Photo/ Lalo Villar)

  • SPAIN-ACCIDENT-TRAIN

    Funeral vehicles carrying victims of a train accident enter a morgue near the city of Santiago de Compostela on July 25, 2013. A train hurtled off the tracks on July 24, 2013 in northwest Spain killing at least 77 passengers and injuring more than 140, an official said today, the country's deadliest rail disaster in more than 40 years. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSO (Photo credit should read CESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images)