Honduras prison fire kills over 350 inmates
A fire broke out in a over-populated Honduras prison late Tuesday night causing over 350 inmates to burn to death.
The prison is located in the town of Comayagua, located 90 miles north of the capital, Tegucigalpa. The prison held about 800 inmates.
Relatives crowded the around the Comayagua prison Wednesday morning to find out the fate of the ones they love. Josua Garcia, Comayagua’s fire department spokesman said he saw “horrific” scenes of inmates rioting in their attempts to escape. Local fireman also stated that they were unable to enter the prison because of gunshots from inside.
“Some 100 prisoners were burned to death or suffocated in their cells,” Garcia said. “We couldn’t get them out because we didn’t have the keys and couldn’t find the guards who had them.”
Local reports said the fire department chief of Comayague was also killed in the fire. For the ones who did make it, 40 of them were treated for serious burns while another 40 inmates were rushed to Hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Daniel Orellana,head of the prison system, stated two hypothesis for the cause of the fire, Reuters reports.
“One is that a prisoner set fire to a mattress and the other one is that there was a short circuit in the electrical system,” he said.
According to the United Nations, riots are frequent throughout Honduras prisons due to the clash of rival street gangs. Furthermore, the country is home to some of the highest murder rates int he world.
In July of 2010, President Porfiro declared nine of the 24 prisons to be in a state of emergency, calling the prisons “universities of crime” due to overcrowding.