Honduras Prison Fire Kills Hundreds of Inmates
Update: Conditions at the Honduran prison.
More than 350 inmates at the Comayagua Prison Farm, 45 miles north of the Honduras capital Tegucigalpa, have been trapped and killed in a fire. At least 300 inmates are still missing and presumed dead. Around 475 inmates were able to get out. It is the largest and worst prison fire in Latin American history.
Danilo Orellana, director of the Honduras prison system, told The Associated Press inmates said the fired was started by an inmate who lit his mattress on fire. He said another theory is there was an electrical short. He ruled out claims that a prison riot was to blame. [More...]
One of the dead was a woman visitor staying overnight. The fire chief may have died in the blaze.
Worried and angry relatives surrounded the prison on Wednesday morning with some throwing rocks at police and trying to force their way into the prison. Police responded by firing shots into the air and tear gas at the protesters, who were mostly women.
The over-crowded prison housed 850 inmates.
Across Honduras, prisons are filled to double their capacity with about 12,500 prisoners in jails meant to hold 6,000.
One reason so many were trapped, according to the Fire Department spokesman:
We couldn’t get them out because we didn’t have the keys and couldn’t find the guards who had them,”
Check out the BBC photos, including the offical reading the names of those who survived to relatives outside the prison and the forensic team dressed and masked, ready to enter and retrieve bodies. Here's a photo of the scene outside the prison.
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