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At least 38 dead and 69 seriously injured in prison fire in Burundi’s capital

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The fire was caused by a “short circuit,” the Interior Ministry said on Twitter.

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At least 38 people were killed and 69 seriously injured in a fire that swept through the central jail in Gitega, Burundi’s capital, on Tuesday, Vice President Prosper Bazombanza, who traveled to the area, told reporters.

Several witnesses told AFP that the fire completely burned some parts of this overcrowded prison.

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At the time of the fire, there were 1,539 inmates for a capacity of 400, the prison administration said.

The fire broke out around 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT), so the detainees were sleeping. Witnesses describe “huge flames.”

“When we saw the height of the flames we started screaming but the police refused to open the doors, saying ‘it was the orders,'” he explained to the AFP a detainee contacted by phone.

“I don’t know how, but I escaped. There are prisoners who were burned whole, “he said.

A police source said rescue teams were delayed.

A first truck arrived two hours after the fire started, he explained. He was then joined by six others, from the surrounding provinces.

The fire was caused by a “short circuit,” the Interior Ministry said on Twitter.

On August 21, a fire was already declared in a part of the central prison, but it did not leave any victims. Then the incident was also caused by a short circuit, according to the Interior Ministry.

The central prison of Gitega (center, political capital), built in 1929, is the third largest in the country, after those of Mpimba (east, in Bujumbura, economic capital) and Rumonge. (I)

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