Honduras: growing unrest in wake of prison fire

Hundreds of relatives of inmates who burned or suffocated to death at the Comayagua prison fire in Honduras forced their way into a morgue in Tegucigalpa Feb. 20 to demand the remains of loved ones. The group, mostly women, pushed past security guards, entered the morgue, broke into a refrigerated container and opened at least six body bags. (The Guardian, Feb. 10) Relatives of those who went missing in the conflagration have converged on Tegucigalpa from around the country, and are being housed on the premises of the government aid agency INFOP, as they await word from the Public Security ministry on the fate of their loved ones. They are reportedly facing poor conditions there, with inadequate food, water and shelter. (Red Morazánica de Información, Feb. 21)

An investigation by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) determined that the fire was likely accidental—possibly caused by a cigarette, a lighted match or some other open flame. (AP, Feb. 21) This contradicts initial claims by Honduran authorities that the fire had been started in a gang conflict among inmates.

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