A fire at a prison in the southwestern Colombian city of Tulua has killed at least 49 people. Many more were injured. Al-Jazeera reported the information to prison authorities.
Tito Castellanas, head of the Colombian National Prisons Agency, said an investigation was under way to determine whether detainees had set fire to their mattresses in an attempt to escape, or whether violence had been instigated to cover up other incidents.
It was not immediately clear whether all those killed were in prison or whether anyone escaped during the incident.
“It’s a tragic and horrific event,” Castellanas added. He also mentioned that 30 people were injured and damaged in the fire and smoke.
A spokesman for Colombia’s prison management authority said at the outset that casualties had occurred while inmates were trying to escape from prisons.
Colombia’s outgoing president Ivan Duk has said the incident will be investigated. Duk is currently on a tour of Portugal. “We are deeply saddened by what has happened in the Tulua area of the Valle del Cauca division,” he said.
Keeping in touch with General Tito Castellinas. I have instructed to continue the investigation. Through this we will get a clear idea about this horrible situation.
Castellenas said there were a total of 1,026 inmates at Tulua Prison. There were 180 prisoners in the area where the fire broke out.
Colombian prisons are overcrowded. According to government estimates, there are 81,000 inmates in various prisons across the country, but about 98,000 are currently being held there.