At least 357 inmates died when a fire broke out in a prison in Honduras Tuesday night.
The Associated Press reported that trapped prisoners screamed in their cells and dozens were burned beyond recognition as the flames swept through the prison in Comayagua.
We couldn't get them out because we didn't have the keys and couldn't find the guards who had them, Comayagua fire department spokesman Josue Garcia told reporters in a press conference. He said he saw horrific things while trying to put out the fire and some 100 prisoners were burned to death or suffocated in their cells.
The attorney general gave the updated death count. The prison holds about 800 inmates.
Hector Ivan Mejia, a spokesman for the security ministry, said it was feared that many inmates had escaped during the fire.
Family members who ran to the burning prison told the BBC some prisoners escaped the blaze by breaking through the roof to jump from the building.
In July 2010, President Porfirio Lobo declared a state of emergency in nine of 24 Honduras prisons. His security minister cited overcrowding problems and said they were becoming universities of crime.
Comayagua is a town 90 miles north of the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa.