Honduran prison fire kills over 300 people, "Day of Sadness" declared

After an inmate lit his bedding on fire, flames spread quickly through an overcrowded Honduran prison, killing as many as 356 people, according to authorities.

City governor, Paola Castro, says that shortly before the fire was set, he received a phone call from the inmate, who threatened to burn down the facility and everyone inside. Reports say that it took almost 20 minutes for firefighters to reach the prison. Without the keys to the cells, they struggled to free the prisoners. By the time they managed to locate the prison officials, about 100 inmates had already died. Others were set free but still perished from smoke and suffocation as they tried to flee into surrounding fields.

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Of the remaining people, approximately 475 escaped and 21 were injured.  The inmate who started the fire remains unnamed.

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The incident brought to light the poor conditions of Honduran prisons, which are known to be filled beyond capacity. This particular prison, located in the city of Comayagua, was built to hold 400 people but was holding over 800 at the time of the fire.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo said that he had suspended the country’s top penal officials and declared this to be “a day of profound sadness.”

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What a horrifying tragedy! I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a family member of one of the prisoners and knowing that a relative was trapped in there. It's a terrifying situation and one that should have been handled in a much more effective manner. I sincerely hope that Honduran government officials, out of respect for those who died and their families, will start making serious attempts to improve the living conditions of the prison facilities throughout the country.

What do you think of the fire? Do you believe it could have been avoided or handled better?

Image via AP

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