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Prison fire leaves at least 51 dead and dozens injured after riot

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  • At least 51 people died in a fire that ripped through a Colombian prison.
  • Authorities confirmed that dozens of people were injured in the incident.
  • The fire in the jail began after a terrible attempted riot.

Tragedy in prison. A fire in a prison in southwestern Colombia  left at least 51 dead and more than a dozen injured, as confirmed by prison authorities cited by the AP local outlet El Tiempo on the morning of Tuesday, June 28.

The director of the Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (Inpec), Tito Castellanos, told Caracol Noticias radio that, according to a preliminary report, the deceased are inmates and among the injured there are also guards. He added that the fire occurred in the midst of a riot that some inmates started in an escape attempt early Tuesday morning at the medium security prison in Tuluá, located in Valle del Cauca.

At least 51 killed in prison fire

At least 51 dead in prison fire
Prison officials and security forces gather in front of a prison where there was a deadly fire in Tuluá, Colombia, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Juan José Horta)

“Initially, when the guard entered, the inmates began to burn mats without thinking of the consequences and supposedly there was a cascading fire,” explained Tito Castellanos, who added that the authorities are also investigating other theories, such as a fight between prison inmates that got out of control, according to the AP report.

The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, expressed his solidarity with the families of the victims, whose identities are still unknown. He indicated in a message on Twitter that he has given instructions to “carry out investigations that will clarify this terrible situation.”

An escape attempt ended in tragedy

A mutiny attempt to escape ended in tragedy

The Sun reported that the prison fire left 49 dead and, citing General Tito Castellanos, noted that the facility housed a total of 1,267 inmates. Around 30 more people were injured in the tragedy that occurred this morning. The horrific riot was a “tragic and disastrous event,” Castellanos told Caracol Radio.

According to the officials, the inmates set fire to mattresses in an attempt to prevent the guards from breaking up the riot. The fire has already been controlled and no prisoners have escaped from jail, according to The Sun, which reported that the incident comes two years after a riot in the capital, Bogotá, that left 23 inmates dead and 80 injured while protesting conditions during the Covid pandemic.

A tragic outcome

regret the fatal outcome
Relatives gather in front of the jail after a fatal fire in Tuluá, Colombia, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Juan José Horta)

After that incident, the Colombian government promised that it would release thousands of prisoners who complained about overcrowding and the lack of services. The Sun reported that newly elected President Gustavo Petro, who will take office in August, said on Twitter that prison violence “forces a complete review of prison policy towards a humanization of prison and the dignity of the prisoner.”

Last year, at least 79 inmates died in a massive brawl in four prisons in Ecuador after the death of a gang leader. The government there believes the violence is related to competition between drug gangs.

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