49 Prisoners Killed After Fire Breaks Out During Riots At The Tulua Prison In Colombia

At least 49 prisoners have been killed and dozens more injured after inmates set fire to mattresses during a riot causing a huge inferno.

At least 49 prisoners have died in a huge fire at the Tulua prison in Colombia
At least 49 prisoners have died in a huge fire at the Tulua prison in Colombia

The incident started with rioting prisoners setting fire to their mattresses in an attempt to stop prison officials from entering their enclosers at the Tulua prison in Colombia.

Authorities are now investigating whether the inmates set fire to their mattresses as part of an "escape attempt" or whether the riot was provoked "to cover some other situation."

Tito Castellanos, director of the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC), said: "Unfortunately there was a riot in the pavilion number eight of the Tulua prison, where there are 1,267 prisoners, with the unfortunate result that 49 people died."

Mr Castellanos said that a further 30 more prisoners were "injured and affected by the blaze and the smoke."

According to Mr Castellanos, there were 180 inmates in the prison section that was affected by the fire, he made no mention of whether any prisoners actually escaped.

Fire at Tulua prison
Families of the inmates congregated outside the prison

A spokesperson for INPEC told AFP that the death toll was likely to change, while local radio station Caracol stated that more than 40 people had been injured. Mr Castellanos also praised the bravery of prisoner guards, some of which got injured themselves while helping prisoners to safety.

Colombian President Ivan Duque tweeted, offering his solidarity with the relatives of those killed and injured. He said: "We regret the events that occurred in the prison in Tulua, Valle Del Cauca. I have given instructions to clarify this terrible situation. My solidarity is with the families of the victims."

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