Map of Colombia showing Tulua, where a deadly prison riot took place on June 28, 2022

At least 52 inmates were killed and 26 others injured on Tuesday after a fire broke out during a prison riot in southwestern Colombia, the national prison authority said.

The tragedy occurred when inmate riots set fire to around 2:00 a.m. and tried to prevent police from entering their jailhouse in the city of Tulua, said Tito Castellanos, director of the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute. (INPEC).

“We have people in very serious condition with extremely extensive burns,” she said.

The prison, which houses more than 1,200 inmates, was surrounded by police and soldiers.

The fire has been brought under control, according to the fire service.

Outside the prison, dozens of relatives gathered in hopes of information about their loved ones.

“I don’t know anything, INPEC won’t let us in,” a tearful Maria Eugenia Rojas, whose son Luis Miguel Rojas is a prisoner in the pavilion where the riots took place, told Caracol television.

“It seems illogical to me that people locked in a building would have set fire to mattresses knowing they could have been burned,” she said.

Authorities had initially said they were investigating whether the incident took place as part of an escape attempt, but later said it was a riot.

There were 180 inmates in the prison section affected by the fire.

He said that without their intervention “the outcome would have been worse.”

“We regret the events in the prison in Tulua, Valle del Cauca,” Duque said.

President-elect Gustavo Petro also expressed his condolences, saying on Twitter that “a complete rethink of prison policies” was needed, taking into account “the dignity of the prisoners”.

He also referred to a 2002 riot at the La Modelo prison in Bogota that left 23 inmates dead.

The Colombian prison system has a capacity of 97,000 inmates, but is overcrowded with some 16,000, according to INPEC.

tie-vel/bc/mlm/jh/des

Originally published as At least 52 inmates killed in Colombia prison riot and fire

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