In one of the world's worst prison fire incidents, a killer blaze swept across a prison in Honduras Wednesday, killing about 359 inmates in their cells, and injuring at least 21, the authorities said.
The deadly fire swept through the jail in Comayagua, about 75 km (45 miles) north of the capital Tegucigalpa that was said to be overcrowded.
The fire was apparently started by one of the inmates late Tuesday night. The fire trapped many of them who were in the cells.
The inmates screamed for help, but nobody came to open their locked cells and they were choked to death.
I thought I was going to die. I was just thinking about saving my life. We shouted for the prisoner warden, but nobody came. Nobody would open up, Marco Alvarez, a 27-year-old inmate who survived the fire, told Reuters.
Officials said that many of the inmates were scorched by flames and many bodies recovered from the jail were so charred that only DNA analysis would help identify the dead.
The incident irked relatives of the dead inmates and stirred clashes between the inmates' family and the police. The angry families reportedly surrounded the prison, some of them threw stones at the police and tried to force their way into the prison.
Police fired shots into the air and teargas at the protesters, who were mostly women, to bring the situation under control.
The pictures below might shock you, but they do reveal the enormity of the tragedy:
Firefighters and forensic personnel carry a body bag bearing a dead inmate outside a jail in Comayagua, about 75 km (45 miles) north of the capital Tegucigalpa Feb. 15, 2012. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
The dead bodies of inmates are placed on the floor inside the prison in Comayagua Feb. 15, 2012. REUTERS/Handout
Forensic technicians, soldiers and Red Cross workers stand near body bags holding the bodies of dead inmates at a jail in Comayagua, Feb. 15, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Lopez
Inmates, who survived a prison fire, sit in the prison in Comayagua, Feb. 15, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Lopez
Police and soldiers, bottom, and journalists, top, take cover during clashes after a deadly prison fire in Comayagua. PA
Soldiers run during clashes with the relatives of inmates after a deadly prison fire in Comayagua, Wednesday Feb. 15, 2012. PA
The remains of inmates lie in a burnt area inside the prison in Comayagua Feb. 15, 2012. REUTERS/Handout