(Image source: New York Times)
BY CHRISTINE KARSTEN
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
At least 350 people are feared dead after a fire swept through a prison in Comayagua, Honduras on Tuesday night.
KGO reports part of the prison was still burning Wednesday morning — but rescue workers eventually extinguished the flames. Now investigators are trying to figure out how the fire started.
“Trapped inmates were screaming as the fire swept through the prison, it’s in central Honduras. Guards actually had to hunt for the keys to free inmates.”
And besides dealing with the massive loss of life from the flames — prison officials have another concern. KNXV reports...
“About 356 inmates are unaccounted for so where did they go? Well we are told some of them may have died but others may have escaped.”
This is not the first time Honduras has seen deadly fires in its prison system.
Twice before prisoners have perished in similar incidents.
The New York Times Reports...
“In 2003, a riot in a Honduran prison left 68 dead, 51 of them shot, stabbed, beaten or burned to death by police... But the following year, a fire, believed to have been caused by a short circuit, killed more than 100 prisoners in another overcrowded facility, most of them gang members.”
Multiple media outlets point out — packed prisons seem to be a trend in Honduras. Sky News reports the prison in Comayagua held around 850 inmates — way over capacity.
“Latin American jails are notoriously overcrowded, particularly in the poor Central American states where gang violence and drug trafficking are rife.The country's 24 overcrowded penal facilities officially have room for 8,000 inmates, but actually house 13,000.”
The investigation into how the fire in Comayagua started is ongoing — but KNTV reports officials say they have it narrowed down to two possibilities.
“As for the cause, some reports point to rioting prisoners. Others say it was an electrical short circuit that sparked the flames.”