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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Prison Fire Kills More Than 200 Inmates In Honduras

Prison Fire Kills More Than 200 Inmates In Honduras

by Eyder Peralta

Firemen enter the National Prison of Comayagua where a fire broke out on Tuesday. At least 200 inmates were killed and dozens were injured. Orlando Sierra /AFP/Getty Images

A fire that swept through a prison in Honduras overnight has resulted in death of at least 272 inmates.

The AP reports that number was given by Lucy Marder, chief of forensic medicine for the prosecutors' office, during a press conference.

La Prensa, the largest daily in Honduras, reports the fire started at about 10:50 p.m. last night, after what the paper called a "mutiny" erupted in the prison.

The AP spoke to a fire department spokesman, who described a "hellish" scene. Josue Garcia told the AP that many prisoners "burned to death or suffocated in their cells."

Quoting a prison's director, the AFP reports the fire was not caused by a riot. The wire service adds:

"The blaze was believed to have broken out around 10:50 pm Tuesday (0450 GMT Wednesday), Orellana said, adding that investigators were looking into whether it was caused by an inmate or by a short circuit.

"The prison held around 850 prisoners."

The BBC spoke to some of the relatives of the prisoners, who said many of the inmates escaped the flames by breaking through the roof and jumping from the building. Others "died trapped in their cells and were burned beyond recognition."

La Prensa reports this is yet another in long list of prison revolts in Honduras. The last one, reports the paper, happened on Oct. 15 and killed 9 inmates.

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