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Honduras: 375 Minimum-Security Prisoners Die in Prison Farm Fire

Common Dreams staff

The relatives of inmates walk inside a prison where a deadly fire broke out, after the relatives clashed with police and soldiers, in Comayagua, Honduras, 45 miles north of the capital, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Wednesday Feb. 15, 2012. At least 375 inmates were killed and many are injured. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)

A massive fire swept through an overcrowded prison in Comayagua, Honduras and killed at least 375 inmates, including many trapped screaming inside their cells, officials said on Wednesday.

The Comayagua prison housed more than 850 inmates -- well above its capacity. Angry relatives surrounded the farm prison Wednesday morning with some throwing rocks at police and trying to force their way into the prison. Police fired shots into the air and tear gas at the relatives, who were mostly women.

Crime has soared in Honduras since the 2009 military coup that deposed Honduras’s democratically elected president, José Manuel Zelaya.

Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research said: "Although no hard evidence has yet emerged that the US government was directly involved in his overthrow, the Obama administration did everything it could to help the coup government to survive and then legitimate itself through elections that most of the rest of the hemisphere, and the world, rejected as neither free nor fair."

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Honduras News reports:

The most recent death toll is at 375 prisoners, and some 850 prisoners remain in unaffected units of the prison.

The prison is an agricultural complex located 500m from the road linking San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. The Comayagua prison inmates engage in the cultivation of vegetables and breeding pigs, among other works.

Alex Turcio, who has survived the fire reported, “Everyone ran for their lives.” Sleeping inmates awoke to screams, and scrambled to find any way out of the prison that they could, Turcio said.

He believes five of the prison units were engulfed in flames.

Tuesday night’s fire at the minimum security prison in Comayagua, brought hundreds of family members clamoring to the scene for information of their loved ones.

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