Posted Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, at 3:21 PM
At least 272 inmates have died in a massive prison fire that tore through a Central Honduras jail Tuesday night. Many more of the 800 held there are missing and unaccounted for.
Many prisoners were burned or suffocated in the blaze, the BBC reports—some beyond recognition. Others broke through the roof of the Comayagua prison and jumped off of it in order to survive.
Families of those incarcerated at the facility flocked to the site desperate for news of survivors. Many expressed anger by throwing rocks at police and military guarding the prison. A spokesman for firefighters who reported to the blaze said prisoners were stuck in their cells.
“We couldn’t get them out because we didn’t have the keys and couldn’t find the guards who had them,” the spokesman said. Forensic workers speculate that inmates may have started the fire in a riot, or that an electrical short circuit is to blame.