14 killed in fire amid prison riot

14 killed in fire amid prison riot

At least 14 people have died at a prison after armed inmates started a fire during a riot today, authorities in Honduras said.

Yair Mesa, the police commissioner of the rough northern city of San Pedro Sula, confirmed the death toll and said the riot has now been brought under control.

“The uprising has been put down with the need to fire shots,” he said by telephone from inside the prison.

He added that the 14 victims apparently died of burns or asphyxiation. The cause of death could not immediately be determined because the bodies were so badly burned.

It was unclear whether that preliminary death toll included a prisoner whose head was cut off and tossed outside the jail.

Inmates removed the burned bodies from the site of the blaze and set them out in the prison yard.

Earlier, city fire chief Jose Danilo Flores said the prisoners themselves appeared to have fought the fire inside the facility. But he said the armed inmates had kept firefighters from entering earlier in the day.

San Pedro Sula is believed to be one of the most dangerous cities in a country that has the highest homicide rate in the world.

The uprising came one and a half months after Honduras’s overcrowded prisons were hit by the worst prison fire in a century, a blaze at the Comayagua farm prison on February 14 that killed 361 inmates.

In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, Honduras’s prison system had nearly 38% more prisoners than it was built for, according to the London-based International Centre for Prison Studies.

A fire at the San Pedro Sula prison in 2004 killed 107 inmates.

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