Honduras prison fire: what started it and why did the guards leave prisoners to die?
IT’S grim in Honduras. In Comayagua, Honduras, 90 miles (140 kilometres) north of the capital, Tegucigalpa, at least 300 inmates have been killed and 21 are injured, according to the authorities. In all, 356 prisoners are dead or missing – 475 escaped. Many were locked in their cells when the fire struck.
Following the “hellish” fire, relatives burst into the Honduran prison. They wanted to see. They wanted to know why guards fled the scene and firefighters could not find the keys to free the imprisoned men. But police barred their way. So they threw stones and bottles and fought their way in.
On HRN Radio, a prisoner named Silverio Aguilar said he heard the shout “Fire! fire!” Prisoners called for help:
“For a while, nobody listened. But after a few minutes, which seemed like an eternity, a guard appeared with keys and let us out.”
Not everyone was so lucky.
Comayagua firefighters’ spokesman Josue Garcia said there were “hellish” scenes at the prison and that desperate inmates had rioted in a bid to escape the flames.
“We couldn’t get them out because we didn’t have the keys and couldn’t find the guards who had them,” he said.
One prisoner, who managed to escape, later told reporters that he first had heard “the screams of the ones (inmates) on fire and everyone just started fearing for their lives. The only thing that we were able to do was start breaking the roof apart so we could go out from above. We started ripping apart the ceiling above us.”