At least 49 prisoners were killed during a nighttime riot inside a prison in southwestern Colombia.
“So far there are 49 dead, this is a preliminary report,” the head of the country’s prison service, General Tito Castellanos said.
He added, “This is a tragic and catastrophic event,” noting that about 30 prisoners were also injured during the riots that erupted in the prison located in the Colombian city of Tulua, according to the AP.
The Colombian official did not give additional details about the circumstances of the riots, which resulted in this large number of deaths.
The tragedy began with a quarrel or an escape attempt, as some prisoners set fire to the mattresses, which led to the outbreak of a fire that spread to most parts of the prison, according to “Swissinfo” news agency.
The Andean country said it will release thousands of prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 after prisoners rioted over overcrowding and a lack of services.
Two years ago, a prison riot in the Colombian capital, Bogota, left 23 prisoners dead and more than 80 injured as prisoners protested health conditions amid the global Coronavirus outbreak.
In neighboring Ecuador, prisoner deaths are common and hundreds have died over the past year, in what the government says is violence linked to rival drug cartels.