At least 51 dead in fire during prison riot in Colombia
- “It is a tragic and disastrous event,” General Tito Castellanos, director of the INPEC prison agency, told local Caracol Radio early on Tuesday.
At least 51 prisoners died after a fire started during a prison riot in the southwestern Colombian city of Tulua, the head of the national prisons agency said on Tuesday, one of the worst incidents of recent prison violence in the country.
“It is a tragic and disastrous event,” General Tito Castellanos, director of the INPEC prison agency, told local Caracol Radio early on Tuesday.
“There was a situation, apparently a riot, the prisoners lit some mattresses and a conflagration occurred.”
Castellanos later confirmed a death toll of 51 people - at least 49 who died in the prison and two who died after being taken to hospital.
“Unfortunately the majority of the dead died because of smoke inhalation,” he told Caracol. “We have two (injured people) who have been sent to Cali. Right now their diagnosis is with the doctors and we expect a report.”
Twenty-four people are being treated in hospital and the fire was put out by local firefighters, Castellanos added. The prison has a total of 1,267 inmates and the cell block where the fire occurred houses 180.
In Colombia, as in many Latin American countries, prisons are highly overcrowded.
Colombia’s jails have a capacity for 81,000 inmates but currently house about 97,000, according to official figures.
“We regret the events that occurred in the prison in Tulua, Valle del Cauca,” Outgoing President Ivan Duque said in a post on Twitter.
“I have given instructions to clarify this terrible situation. My solidarity is with the families of the victims.”
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