Rising anger in Honduras over deadly prison fire

Posted on: Sat February 18, 2012

International Highlights

COMAYAGUA: Anger rose in Honduras Thursday as word spread of witness accounts that inmates were left trapped in a raging prison fire, or were shot trying to flee the blaze that killed 355 prisoners.

Resentment over the conduct of prison guards deepened as experts sought to identify the charred remains of those killed at the overcrowded Comayagua prison, thought to be the world\'s worst-ever jail fire.

"If the guards had opened the gates, they would not have died," said Rosa Caseres, whose husband, serving five years for kidnapping, died in the inferno.

"This is criminal. The authorities are incompetent," said the mother of three young children.

Other relatives echoed her fury.

"How can you believe 350 people died just like that? It\'s because they let them die. They (guards) did not come with the keys," said Angelina Raudales, 62, as she waited outside the morgue in Tegucigalpa for the body of her husband, Jose Adrian.

To make matters worse, reports were spreading that prison guards began shooting at inmates who managed to flee the flames.

"One of the prisoners who survived said my husband made it out, but the guards shot him and then threw him into the flames," said Yadira Hernandez, whose husband was serving a murder sentence.

Police officials have denied negligence in the deaths, but some firefighters pointed out that prison guards were slow to open cell doors and gates when the fire broke out.

The prison housed 852 inmates, twice its capacity. Authorities put the final death toll at 355. (AFP)

Courtesy:  GEO TV