A massive fire has burnt to death at least 300 inmates at a congested jail in Honduras. Several of the prisoners reportedly suffocated to death after screaming for help from inside their locked cells.
According to Danelia Ferrera, a senior official at the attorney general's office, by the time the fire was controlled, 359 people were dead.
"It's a terrible scene ... Our staff went into the cells and the bodies are charred, most of them are unrecognizable," Ferrera told Reuters.
Family members and friends of inmates clashed with police officials as they made efforts to make their way into the jail, anxious to know the state of their loved ones. Authorities reportedly fired shots into the air besides firing tear gas in a bid to control the mob.
Although an investigation of whether the fire was started by an uprising or an electrical fault inside the prison is in progress, yet one report has it that the fire, one of the world’s most horrible prison fires, was apparently started by one of the inmates on Tuesday.
The governor of Comayagua province, Paola Castro, said that one prisoner told her that the fire was started by an inmate.
"One inmate got in touch with me just after 11 pm to say another inmate had set fire to the prison in block number 6, presumably by setting fire to a mattress," Castro said, adding that she had met the inmate throughout her public services at the jail.
According to Josue Garcia, Comayagua firefighters' spokesman, there were horrific views at the jail and that anxious prisoners had fought to flee the blazes.
Reports suggest that many of the injured were carried to Tegucigalpa for treatment, 30 people with harsh burns among them.
According to BBC, prisons are full of criminals in Honduras, which is devastated by brutal bunch of street hooligans, gang of drug traffickers and out of control poverty. Besides, the country is said to have the world’s highest murder rate.
A political emergency broke through Honduras in 2009 when a notorious coup d'état overthrew the democratically elected president. However, the country has been making desperate efforts to repair divisions since Lobo was voted into power shortly that year.