Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia prison riot death toll rises

A woman reads a newspaper in front of Palmasola jail on Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on 24 August 2013
Image caption Relatives are still waiting for a list of those killed in Friday's riot

The number of people killed as a result of a riot at a prison in eastern Bolivia on Friday has risen to 31.

Another 37 inmates were seriously injured when fighting broke out between rival gangs inside the jail.

Most of the victims burned to death after inmates blew up two propane tanks and used others as flamethrowers.

Among those killed is an 18-month-old toddler, one of the many children living in the prison with its incarcerated parents.

Inferno

Under Bolivian law, children under six years of age can stay in jail with their parents if there is no other relative to look after them.

The authorities have so far not released a list of those who died in the riot at Palmasola prison outside the city of Santa Cruz. Palmasola is Bolivia's largest jail.

Relatives and friends of inmates have been waiting outside the prison for news. The latest victim died on Saturday of burns sustained during the riot.

Interior Minister Carlos Romero said the violence started when inmates in one cell block knocked a hole in the wall separating them from another block.

They then attacked their rivals with propane gas tanks, machetes, knives and sticks.

The fire spread quickly as straw mattresses were set alight. Guards took several hours to put out the fire and regain control of the prison.

Some prisoners jumped off the roof to escape the flames.

President Evo Morales has ordered an investigation into the incident.

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