Burundi prison fire kills dozens

Published : December 08, 2021 16:41 IST

A burned out cell at a prison in Gitega, Burundi after a deadly fire tore through the facility. Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP/picture alliance

A huge fire tore through an overcrowded prison in Burundi, claiming 38 lives and injuring many more.

At least 38 people have died in a fire in an overcrowded Burundi prison. The country's vice president, Prosper Bazombanza, says more than 60 other detainees have been injured in the blaze at the central prison in Gitega on Tuesday.

One prisoner claimed guards were reluctant to open the cells. "We started shouting that we were going to be burned alive when we saw the flames rising very high, but the police refused to open the doors," the detainee said. Those with serious injuries were taken to the hospital. It is the second fire at the same prison this year. In August the interior ministry said an electrical short-circuit caused the blaze. No casualties were reported in that incident.

Overcrowding in Burundi's prisons

It's not clear yet what caused the fire. However, local media reports more than 1,500 prisoners were held in overcrowded cells designed to hold 400. It is a common problem in the country. In June, 5,255 prisoners received presidential pardons aimed at emptying overcrowded jails. At the time there were nearly 13,200 people in prisons designed to house no more than 4,100.

lo/msh (AFP, dpa)

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