(TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras) -- A fire at a jail in Honduras has left at least 272 prisoners dead after the blaze broke out late Tuesday night, officials said. Dozens were burned or suffocated to death after authorities failed to open a number of the prison’s cells, BBC News reports.
"We couldn't get them out because we didn't have the keys and couldn't find the guards who had them," said Josue Garcia, a spokesman for the Comayagua firefighters.
The head of the city’s forensic services said 356 prisoners were unaccounted for and speculated they “could be dead, though others could have suffered burns, escaped or survived.”
The jail was reportedly holding some 800 inmates at the time of the fire.
Officials, according to BBC News, are investigating whether an electric fault is to blame.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio