Death toll from Colombian prison fire climbs to 14

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BOGOTA: The death toll from a prison fire in Colombia’s northern city of Barranquilla has climbed to 14, city health authorities said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila)

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Last week’s fire, which initially killed 10 inmates at the city’s Modelo Prison, started when inmates set fire to mattresses after wardens used tear gas to try to control a clash between members of rival gangs. Some 37 inmates were injured by the fire on Jan. 28.

On Wednesday, Alma Solano, local health secretary of Barranquilla, confirmed the death of Jorge Issac Carranza Mercado and Jose Luis Solano, two inmates who have been hospitalized for fire injuries in Camino Adelita de Char hospital, local daily El Tiempo reported.

The report also said that 22-year-old inmate Jhonatan del Castillo died on Tuesday.

Ramon Quintero, director of the private hospital where del Castillo died, said the inmate had severe burns over 50 percent of his body, as well as smoke damage to his lungs.

Prison authorities said 14 inmates remained hospitalized.

Earlier, local daily El Espectador reported that an inmate died in Costa Caribe hospital on Feb. 1 due to a respiratory arrest caused in the fire.

The prison riot that led to the fire followed a routine inspection that resulted in the seizure of drugs and weapons from some cells.

The prison houses at least 725 inmates, though its capacity is just over 400, according to local media. PNA

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