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Prison riot over 'poor sanitary conditions' leaves 23 dead

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Emotion: The relative of an inmate cries as she speaks on the phone outside El Modelo jail in Bogota. Photo: Reuters

Emotion: The relative of an inmate cries as she speaks on the phone outside El Modelo jail in Bogota. Photo: Reuters

AP

Emotion: The relative of an inmate cries as she speaks on the phone outside El Modelo jail in Bogota. Photo: Reuters

A prison riot in Colombia's capital Bogota left 23 prisoners dead and 83 injured as detainees protested about sanitary conditions amid the global outbreak of coronavirus.

Thirty-two injured prisoners had been hospitalised, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello said yesterday, while seven prison guards were also injured. Two guards were in critical condition.

The Andean country will enter a nationwide lockdown meant to stem infections from tomorrow night. So far 231 people have been confirmed infected with the disease and two have died.

"Today is a very sad and painful day," Ms Cabello said. "Last night there was a mass criminal escape attempt at the El Modelo prison and riots in various detention centres around the country."

Graphic mobile phone videos were posted to social media at the weekend showing what appeared to be the inside of the prisons. Some showed small fires, others injured prisoners and guards.

In one video, a man says the incarcerated have been "abandoned like dogs" amid the virus outbreak.

However, it has not been possible to independently verify the contents of the videos.

No prisoners escaped during the riots, Ms Cabello said.

"There is not any sanitary problem that would have caused this plan and these riots. There is not one infection nor any prisoner or custodial or administrative staffer who has coronavirus."

The second Colombian to die from coronavirus was a 70-year-old woman in the city of Cali, the health ministry said. Her daughter arrived in Colombia from Cuba, where she had been in contact with a person from the United States who is positive for the virus.

The daughter currently has a cough, the ministry said in a statement, while the victim's 74-year-old husband is hospitalised and positive for the virus.

Irish Independent