Fire dur­ing Chile prison brawl kills 81 peo­ple

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

SAN­TI­AGO: A fire started dur­ing an in­mate brawl swept through an over­crowded prison, killing at least 81 peo­ple and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing 14. Chileans heard the screams of in­mates af­ter a pris­oner us­ing a con­tra­band cell phone called state tele­vi­sion for help.

The early morn­ing blaze at San Miguel prison, which pre­lim­i­nary re­ports in­di­cated may have been in­ten­tion­ally set, was the worst dis­as­ter in the his­tory of Chile's pen­i­ten­tiary sys­tem, Health Min­is­ter Jaime Manalich said.

The fire be­gan dur­ing fight­ing be­tween in­mates and reached its max­i­mum in­ten­sity in just three min­utes, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Ro­dribo Hinzpeter said. It was brought un­der con­trol in three hours.

Po­lice op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Jaime Con­cha in­sisted po­lice acted quickly de­spite cop­ing with 1,900 in­mates at the prison built for 700. "The con­di­tions that ex­isted in­side this prison are ab­so­lutely in­hu­mane," said Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Pin­era, who vis­ited an emer­gency cen­ter where in­mates were be­ing treated for se­vere burns and smoke in­hala­tion.

Chilean tele­vi­sion broad­cast spine-chill­ing au­dio and video from the prison fire, some of it shot by pris­on­ers us­ing banned cell phones and sent to sta­tions. The state chan­nel aired a record­ing of an in­mate call­ing from in­side the prison and plead­ing for help. Screams could be heard in the back­ground. Other broad­casts showed the smoked-filled prison tower and in­mates shout­ing over and over: "The doors!" and "We're burn­ing!"

Pri­vate Mega TV broad­cast a record­ing made by a pris­oner of in­mates in the burn­ing tower scream­ing "Help! Help! Open the doors!" In­ves­ti­ga­tor Ale­jan­dro Pena said pre­lim­i­nary re­ports in­di­cated the fire was set in­ten­tion­ally, but he didn't say by whom. An in­mate, how­ever, told state tele­vi­sion the fire be­gan when a small stove fell dur­ing a fight.

San­ti­ago re­gion Gov. Fer­nando Echeverria said the of­fi­cial death toll was 81. By Wed­nes­day evening, of­fi­cials had iden­ti­fied 31 of the vic­tims be­cause many of the bod­ies were un­rec­og­niz­able. Of­fi­cials said most would have to be iden­ti­fied by DNA. Fire­fight­ers said they were alerted to the fire by a call from a cell phone in­side the prison, a col­lec­tion of ce­ment tow­ers that rises above a mid­dle class neigh­bor­hood in Chile's cap­i­tal. -Ap

SARA­JEVO: Turkey's De­fence Min­is­ter Mehmet Vecdi Gonul and Bos­nia De­fence Min­is­ter Selmo Cikotic (not pic­tured) stand dur­ing the Bos­nian na­tional an­them be­fore a meet­ing in Sara­jevo. -Ap

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.