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At least '17 dead' in Honduras prison fire

At least 17 people have died in a fire at the San Pedro Sula prison in northern Honduras, officials say, after rioting and fighting broke out between inmates.

Honduras prison fire 2012 03 29Enlarge
Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said Thursday’s fire at the prison – which has a capacity of 800 inmates but currently houses 2,250 prisoners – had “once again highlighted the critical situation” in Honduras’ prisons. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 17 people have died in a fire at a prison in northern Honduras, officials say, six weeks after a fire at another Honduran jail killed 361 inmates.

Thursday's fire at the San Pedro Sula prison was reportedly started by rioting inmates fighting amongst themselves, according to the Associated Press.

Another inmate died after being decapitated during the riot, with his head thrown in front of the prison entrance.

Speaking by telephone from inside the prison, Police Commissioner Yair Messa said the riot had been brought under control “without the need to fire shots.” A fire official said the death toll from the blaze could rise.

Inmates reportedly removed the burned bodies from the site of the fire and set them out in the prison yard, according to the UK Press Association.

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Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said Thursday’s fire at the prison – which has a capacity of 800 inmates but currently houses 2,250 prisoners – had “once again highlighted the critical situation” in Honduras’ prisons, according to the Agence France Presse.

Last month 361 inmates died in a horrific fire at Comayagua prison, some 90 kilometers north of the capital, Tegucigalpa. Officials say the blaze may have been triggered by a discarded cigarette, according to the BBC.

The accident was one of the world’s deadliest ever prison fires, and focused international attention on Honduras’ overcrowded jails, which hold some 13,000 inmates in a system designed for 8,000. 

More from GlobalPost: Honduras prison fire kills 350

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120329/at-least-17-dead-honduras-prison-fire