At least 38 inmates have perished and dozens others seriously injured when a massive fire tore through an overcrowded prison in Burundi on Tuesday.
The country’s Vice-President, Prosper Bazombanza, confirmed the news of the tragedy in a statement of Tuesday, 7 December, 2021.
The blaze reportedly broke out in a penitentiary in Burundi’s political capital Gitega at about 4:00 am (0200 GMT) on Tuesday when the inmates were still asleep.
Bazombanza, who visited the scene of the tragedy said 38 people were killed and 69 seriously hurt following the incident.
Teams from the Red Cross in Burundi were at the scene to assist the victims, and those with most serious burns were taken to the hospital while others with milder cases were treated at the scene, AFP reported.
Other reports suggest that many of those who died were elderly prisoners and the cause of the fire is still unknown.
In August, a fire broke out at the same prison and authorities said was caused by a electrical problem. The prison designed to hold 400 inmates is overcrowded with more than 1,500 inmates in cells now.
According to AFP, Chronic overcrowding is a problem in prisons in Burundi, one of the poorest nations in the world, and inmates often complain about their cramped living conditions and lack of food.
There were a total of 12,878 inmates living in accommodation designed for 4,294, according to November figures, despite a presidential amnesty in March which saw 5,200 prisoners released.