Venezuela prison fire kills 68; victims’ kin clash with police
The South American nation of Venezuela, which is passing through gruelling hardships politically and economically, was in for yet another shock on Wednesday, March 28, when a fire at a police station in the city of Valencia in the state of Carabobo left 68 people dead.
The blaze reportedly spread after the prisoners in the station reportedly set fire to mattresses in a bid to escape but it terribly backfired. The incident was followed by turmoil as the police used tear gas to disperse the kin of those who were killed. The law-keepers swung into action after the victims' worried relatives surrounded the police station to know whether their dear ones were safe.
Authorities said a probe into the incident would begin at the earliest. Carabobo went into mourning after the tragedy.
Though the reason behind the fire was not officially confirmed, officials said soon after a police officer was shot in the leg by a detainee that the prisoners set fire to mattresses in the jail and it spread fast to kill several. Two among the dead were visitors to the jail, it was told. While some were charred, others died of asphyxiation.
As soon as the news of the fire broke, the relatives of the prisoners rushed to the police station and clashed with the police to know how their kin was inside.
Venezuela is notorious for its overcrowded prisons as more and more people are put behind bars because of regular violence and riots. The country is one of the most unstable in the world with a strong economic crisis. The prison in Valencia where the fire tragedy occurred was a temporary one.