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February 15, 2012 12:08 PM   Subscribe

A tragic fire in Honduras has claimed the lives of hundreds of inmates as a "hellish scene" unfolded as hundreds of inmates were caught up in a prison fire in Comayagua.

[Potential for graphic images, most are major news sources but use caution if you're sensitive to this sort of thing]

Although prison officials are stating that a riot caused the fire the BBC reports that it was likely caused either by a mattress set ablaze or a short circuit in the prison's electrical system.

Within hours family members of the inmates had gathered and attempted to enter the prison grounds and were repulsed by guards and police.

From that last link,

One survivor noted,
"We couldn't get them out because we didn't have the keys and couldn't find the guards who had them,” Garcia said."

And it appears the cavalry is on the way,
“We're driving there right now to provide assistance to emergency responders on the ground,” said US Military Staff Sgt Bryan Franks. Franks said smoke was no longer visible above the city, and that his team included four vehicles made up of a 10-man medical team, a security forces element and firefighters.

Thoughts and/or prayers would be nice...
posted by RolandOfEld (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The US State Department has criticised Honduras for “harsh prison conditions” and violence against detainees.

As Adorno said somewhere, you've got to lol because the other alternative is hysterical weeping.
posted by Frowner at 12:49 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Awful beyond words. It may well be the worst prison fire of all time, claiming even more lives than the 1930 Ohio Penitentiary fire which killed 322. Horribly, Honduras should be very aware of the risks of prison fires since 86 died in one in 2003 and another 104 in a blaze in 2004.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2012

I feel like there needs to be some sort or safeguard against this. Maybe if the smoke alarms go off for a long enough length of time, or if the temperatures reach above 110 or something, the cells should automatically open so everyone could self evacuate. I realize the guards and such don't want all of the criminals to be able to escape, but when the alternative is have hundreds of them burn alive, you need to check your priorities.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:50 PM on February 15, 2012

It looks like it is the worst prison fire ever, with a reported 356 unaccounted for; a quick Googling says the next worst fire left 322 dead in an Ohio prison back in 1930. Awful indeed. Prayers & thoughts with their families.
posted by easily confused at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2012

Hard to imagine, it's so horrible.

I realize the guards and such don't want all of the criminals to be able to escape, but when the alternative is have hundreds of them burn alive, you need to check your priorities.

Surely there could be an arranged alternative between letting criminals running down the public streets and burning alive in their locked cells? Tiered automatic releases?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2012

Anyone know what the policy is for this kind of thing in countries that do the whole 'prison' thing a bit better than Honduras?

I mean, personal experience here in my neck of the woods seems to be the fact that buildings that are hard to break out of and buildings that don't burn easily tend to overlap; hence, you have alot of cinderblock/masonry style prisons.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:24 PM on February 15, 2012

There's just nothing to say. So horrible.
posted by Duffington at 3:53 PM on February 15, 2012

There is no way I'm clicking those links. This just sounds horrible beyond words.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:11 PM on February 15, 2012

This is horrific. My thoughts are with the family and friends left behind. It's awful beyond words.
posted by dejah420 at 7:17 PM on February 15, 2012

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2012

Graphic photographs of the Honduras prison fire nightmare. Many of the images are Not Safe For Life.
posted by nickyskye at 12:25 PM on February 17, 2012

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