Honduras prison fire relatives storm morgue for bodies
- 21 February 2012
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Relatives of the hundreds of inmates who died in a prison fire in Honduras last week have forced their way into a morgue to demand the remains of their loved ones.
A large group - most of them women - broke into a refrigerated container and opened several body bags before they were driven out by police.
Nearly 360 prisoners died in the fire.
Most were burned beyond recognition, and so far only a fraction have been identified through DNA testing.
Some relatives have been camping outside the morgue in the capital Tegucigalpa, waiting for the remains to be returned for burial.
Damaris Lopez, who lost two brothers in the fire, said she had not been told when she would be given the bodies.
"They tell us that they are going to give them to us but they don't do it," she told Reuters news agency.
Officials said the process would continue until all the victims were identified.
"The ministry guarantees all the families that the identification of bodies will go on to the end, and none of the victims of the fire in Comayagua prison will be buried in mass graves," Melvin Duarte, a spokesman for prosecutors, told Efe news agency.
The total number of prisoners known to have died has risen to 359 after another man died of his burns in hospital.
The disaster has drawn attention to overcrowding and poor conditions in Honduras's prison system.
The Comayagua jail held 852 inmates - more than double its normal capacity.
There was no emergency evacuation plan. Firefighters said many prisoners died screaming in their cells because wardens could not find keys.
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo has ordered a safety review of all prisons.
The prison population has grown rapidly in recent years as a result of a surge in drug trafficking and violent crime that has given Honduras the world's highest murder rate.