Honduras prisoners hobble out of smoldering prison [Video]
Honduran prisoners hobble, crawl and are carried out of a smoldering prison in this Associated Press video of Honduran television coverage of the disaster.
The Tuesday night fire killed at least 272 inmates and perhaps more than 300, many reportedly trapped in their cells. Honduran officials say it may have been caused by a riot or an electrical failure, The Times reported.
Scores of inmates couldn't be freed from their cells in time to save them because firefighters couldn't find the guards who had the keys, Comayagua fire department spokesman Josue Garcia told the Associated Press.
Overcrowding and riots are endemic and deadly in Honduran prisons. The problem isn't new: Amnesty International decried prison conditions eight years ago after another prison fire killed 102 inmates.
Back then, Amnesty International alleged that "182 inmates were locked in a cell that had capacity for only 50." It linked the problem to the imprisonment of detainees awaiting trial or sentencing.
Another Honduran prison fire led to the convictions of 21 prison officials for causing the deaths of 68 inmates, the human rights group reported three years ago.
Prison conditions are a pervasive problem in the Americas: United Nations officials have also lamented overcrowding and shoddy conditions for triggering violence in Latin America, pegging overcrowding at anywhere from 30% to 70%.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Video: Honduran prisoners hobble out of a smoldering prison in the town of Comayagua. Credit: Associated Press.