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Venezuela prison fire: Tocuyito blaze kills 17

  • 9-7-2015

Seventeen people have been killed and another 11 injured in a fire at a prison in Venezuela.

The cause of the blaze at Tocuyito jail near the city of Valencia is still being investigated.

Inmates said an electrical fault was to blame but investigators have yet to provide an official report.

Prisons in Venezuela are notoriously overcrowded and violent. Pressure group Venezuelan Prison Observatory says more than 300 inmates were killed in 2014.

'Increased security'

Nine men and eight women died in the fire which spread through one of the units, officials said.

Forensic experts are trying to identify the bodies.

Relatives who gathered outside the morgue in Valencia said they believed the male victims were inmates while the female ones were spending the night in the penitentiary.

They said it was not unusual for visitors to spend Sunday night with their incarcerated partners.

Officials said security inside and around the prison had been increased to stop inmates from rioting or attempting to escape.

Venezuela has one of the highest crime and homicide rates in Latin America, and the judicial system is struggling to cope with the caseload.

The prison population has been increasing with many of those incarcerated waiting for trial.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC

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