Cane Fire Claims Lives of 14 Children in Honduras

December 3, 2004

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) – HonduranPresident Ricardo Maduro on Wednesdaymet with and consoled the families of 14youth – 12 of whom were minors – wholost their lives during a field fire Mondayin the department of Coluteca, in southernHonduras.The children reportedly were caughtin the flames of a sugarcane fire as theyhunted rabbits for food.It is common practice to burn fields ofsugarcane before the harvest, to clear thethick leaves and vegetation and to chaseout snakes.The children, from a neighboringfarm, reportedly took advantage of thecane fire to hunt rabbits that also werefleeing the flames. Apparently the childrengot too close to the fire and becameencircled, and died of burns and asphyxiation.Two other children survived the fireand are being treated in a hospital inTegucigalpa. They reportedly have burnson 80% of their body and are sufferingfrom damage to internal organs.President Maduro noted that this is thefirst time such a tragedy has occurred inthe 65-year tradition of burning sugarcanefields in Honduras.

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