Toll in Honduras Prison Fire Rises Past 300

About 500 inmates escaped
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2012 12:20 PM CST
Soldiers run during clashes with the relatives of inmates after a deadly prison fire in Comayagua, Honduras.   (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
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(Newser) – The numbers are settling in the horrific fire inside a packed Honduras prison: Authorities say 356 inmates are missing and presumed dead, many of whom were trapped inside their cells, reports the AP. About 475 escaped, with 21 reported injuries. According to some survivors, the blaze began when an inmate set fire to his mattress and screamed, "We will all die in here." Many complained of slow response from guards once the fire started.

"It's a terrible scene," an official with the attorney general's office tells Reuters. "Our staff went into the cells and the bodies are charred, most of them are unrecognizable." Angry relatives began throwing rocks at guards today and tried to storm the gates before being driven back with tear gas. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and has frequent problems in its overcrowded prisons, notes Reuters. (Read more Honduras fire stories.)

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