16/02/2012 08:20 GMT

358 Prisoners Burned Alive In Overcrowded Honduras Prison Fire As It Emerges Majority Of Men Had Not Been Convicted (PICTURES)

Half of the inmates at a Honduras prison, where 358 died in a fire, had not been convicted, it has emerged.

The Tuesday night blaze was started by an inmate occurred at the penitentiary in Comayagua, 90 miles north of the capital Tegucigalpa.

More than half of the 856 prisoners were either awaiting trial or being held as suspected gang members, according to a government report sent to the United Nations, seen by AP.

The report also revealed there were around 800 inmates on any given day at the facility – which was built for just 500 prisoners.

The fire, now considered the most deadly prison blaze in a century, saw hundreds of inmates suffocate or burn to death in their cells.

As the clean-up operation continues, inmates were being found stuck to the roofing, their bodies fused to the metal.

Johnny Ordenez, a Honduran soldier helping to move bodies, told Reuters: “The corpses are charred and some of them are stuck on top of each other. You have to peel them apart like an orange.”

Many bodies are so badly charred that dental records and DNA will be needed to identify them.

Some of the inmates who survived were able to break through the sheet metal roofing of the building. Others jumped into sinks or showers as the blaze raged.

One of the lucky ones recounted: “I woke up with all the screaming from my fellow inmates, who were already breaking the wood and zinc ceiling.”

The Honduran national prison system director, Danilo Orellana, declined to comment on the supervision or the crowded conditions, the Guardian reported.

The president, Porfirio Lobo, has suspended Orellana and other top prison officials while the tragedy is investigated.