A fire swept through an overcrowded Honduras prison killed 359 inmates on Tuesday night. Many of those inmates were trapped inside their cells and were screaming. This Honduras prison fire is one of the world’s deadliest prison fires in a century.
The scene was so bad when firefighters and Red Cross arrived that they would grab the body and it would disintegrate. Therefore, having to place them into bags in parts. Danelia Ferrera, a senior official at the attorney general’s office reported, “It’s a terrible scene. Our staff went into the cells and the bodies are charred, most of them are unrecognizable. Officials will have to use dental records and DNA in many cases to identify those killed.”
How did the Honduras prison fire start? Paola Castro, former prison employee and local governor of Comayagua state reported that an inmate from the Honduras prison called her just moments before the fire. The inmate said he was going to set the 1940’s prison on fire and kill everyone inside. Investigators were told that an unidentified inmate screamed “We will all die here!” as he lit fire to his prison bed.
Ever Lopez, 24-years old, who was serving time for homicide in the Honduras prison said, “I saw the smoke from cell block 6 and it spread throughout the prison. The other prisoners and I broke through the roof with our bare hands and fled. Thank God I’m alive.”
Comayagua is the worst prison as far as it being run down and overcrowded. It’s a dilapidated prison. Andrew Coyle of the International Center for Prison Studies at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom told CNN, “Many prisons across Central America are run-down, with crumbling infrastructure and poor maintenance. An inevitable consequence is lax adherence to health and safety guidelines and fire prevention, making the chances of a devastating fire that much higher.” He added, “Nationwide, Honduras, a country of about 8 million, has capacity for about 8,000 prisoners but had nearly 12,000 incarcerated as of 2010, equating to 40% overcrowding.”
Ron W. Nikkel, president of Prison Fellowship International, an international nongovernmental organization told CNN, “It’s horrifically overcrowded. The bunks are sometimes five, six, seven tiers high, with the lowest person on the totem pole sleeping underneath the bunk on the bottom.”