Tegucigalpa, Feb 22 (IANS/EFE) The fire that claimed 359 lives last week in a prison in central Honduras “was merely an accidental occurrence and not caused by criminal hands”, the country’s attorney general said Tuesday.
Luis Rubi said that authorities had ruled out the possibility that gasoline was used to start the fire, as had been reported by some media outlets citing unnamed inmates.
In an interview with Televicentro television, the attorney general said that none of the more than 200 autopsies performed by Tuesday had revealed bullet wounds on any of the victims, something else that contradicts press accounts contending that guards at the Comayagua prison farm had fired on the prisoners during the incident.
Rubi said that those initial conclusions had resulted from the investigation being conducted by his office and a group of experts from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who arrived in Honduras two days after the fire at the request of President Porfirio Lobo’s administration.
“We’re awaiting the reports so that we may have a really exact version of what happened,” the attorney general said.
The complete report of the worst prison tragedy in Honduran history will be ready in two weeks, Rubi said.
The fire at the Comayagua prison, located about 80 km from Tegucigalpa, began late on the night of Feb 14.
Hundreds of relatives of the victims have stationed themselves outside the medical examiner’s office in the capital waiting for the remains of their loved ones to be turned over to them.
Some 25 forensic experts from Honduras, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru are working to identify the bodies, some of which are so badly charred that DNA testing is being relied upon to get positive IDs, according to the official report.