At least 49 inmates died have died Tuesday during a riot at the Colombian prison in Tuluá, while 30 others and some keepers were also injured, it was reported.
Colombia's National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (Inpec) authorities explained that the mutiny inside the medium-security ward resulted in a fire that caused the deaths. The outbreak reportedly began when some of the 180 detainees in cellblock 8 burned some mattresses to prevent guards from thwarting an escape attempt.
”There was a call at almost 1:20 a.m. about a possible riot (...) It is verified that there was a burning of many mattresses, and so far there are about 50 people transferred to health care centers, an Inpec statement pointed out.
We regret the events that occurred in the prison of Tuluá, Valle del Cauca. I am in contact with the @DInpec, Gen. Tito Castellanos and I have given instructions to advance investigations to clarify this terrible situation. My solidarity with the families of the victims, President Iván Duque said on Twitter.
Unfortunately there is a riot in ward number 8 of the Tuluá prison where there are 1,267 [people] deprived of liberty. We are doing the respective verifications of what happened and there are many hypotheses: among them, an escape attempt, a disturbance of the order by these people to cover up some situation, Prison Warden Tito Yesid Castellanos said in a radio interview.
At the moment, unfortunately, we have this result and we are proceeding there. Our National Police, the CTI (Technical Investigation Corps), and firefighters are supporting us in this disastrous situation, he added.
We have several injured Inpec [officers]. It should be taken into account that there are 180 people who were in the pavilion. They set mattresses on fire to prevent the guard from entering and they themselves were affected, with the system of extinguishers and others that we have tried to control it, but it was a cascade effect,” Castellanos went on.
The official also said he could not corroborate at that time whether any prisoner from the maximum-security ward had escaped and was waiting for prison staff to report to him on the issue. In the medium-security sector, only prisoners without a definitive sentence or with arguably mild ones were held.