Spanish police have lowered the death toll from the derailment of a high-speed train just outside the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela to 78.

The head of the Spanish national police's forensic unit, Antonio del Amo, informed reporters Friday of the work being carried out to identify the bodies.

He said the death toll had been lowered from 80, attributing the earlier miscount to the difficulty in some cases of determining which human remains corresponded to which crash victims.

The fatalities from Wednesday evening's accident include 69 Spaniards and three foreigners (a Mexican, an American and an Algerian), while six other victims have not yet been identified.

The train's driver, identified as Francisco Jose Garzon, has been arrested.

He is currently hospitalized in Santiago de Compostela and has been charged with reckless imprudence resulting in death, the police chief for the northwestern region of Galicia, Jaime Iglesias, said.

Nearly 100 people, including 31 adults and four children listed in critical condition, are still hospitalized for treatment of injuries sustained in the accident, officials said Thursday.

Authorities say excessive speed may be to blame for the accident, and Garzon apparently admitted that he was going at around 190 kph (118 mph) on a curve with a speed limit of 80 kph (about 50 mph).

"I derailed, what am I going to do, what am I going to do," the 52-year-old Garzon, who has worked as a train operator since the 1990s, told the national government's representative in Galicia.

The high-speed passenger train went off the tracks along the route linking Madrid and the Atlantic coastal city of Ferrol.

The train involved in the accident entered service in 2012 and can go up to 250 kph (155 mph) on international rail networks and 220 kph (136 mph) on the Spanish high-speed rail system.

The signals on the stretch where the accident occurred were operating properly at the time of the derailment and the train had been inspected earlier in the day on Wednesday, Spanish railway operator Adif said. EFE