Officials in Honduras say the massive fire that killed at least 358 inmates at an overcrowded prison was started by an inmate.
The blaze, one of the world’s deadliest prison fires in history, took place at the farm prison in the town of Comayugua, located north of the capital of Tegucigalpa. Many of the victims suffocated in their cells or burned to death.
Comayugua Gov. Paola Castro says she received a phone call from an inmate late Tuesday night, telling her that another inmate had set fire to a mattress.
Many survivors managed to escape by breaking through the prison’s sheet metal roofing. Prison guards fired their guns in the air as the prisoners escaped the blaze, believing they had a riot on their hands.
The guards were outside and instead of letting the inmates out, they wanted to stop them and kept them inside, said Heriberto Rivas, a Comayagua prison inmate who survived the fire. “I don’t know what their reasons were but thank God I am alive and I’ll carry on,” he said.
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo announced during a nationally televised address Wednesday that he has suspended the director of the national prison system as well as the director of the Comayugua facility.