LA PAZ – The death Saturday of another inmate from serious burns raised to 31 the number of fatalities left by a brawl between two rival groups at a jail in the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, authorities said.
Government Minister Carlos Romero told state media about the death of the inmate at a hospital where he had been admitted to be treated for burns.
Friday’s rioting for control of a section of the jail took place at the Palmasola Prison in Santa Cruz.
Another 37 who are gravely injured are in Santa Cruz hospitals, most of them with serious burns that in some cases cover between 60 and 90 percent of their bodies, the media said.
Most of the inmates who died Friday burned to death when their rivals exploded gas cylinders and used others as flamethrowers and to poison them.
The aggressors also attacked their rivals with machetes, knives, clubs and, possibly, with guns, because some bullet cartridges were found at the scene of the brawl.
Among the fatalities was a 1˝-year-old boy who was one of the dozens of minors who live at Palmasola with their parents, a practice accepted in Bolivian prisons when the youngsters have no other family members who could care for them.
A program to remove the youngsters from prison got underway in June after officials reached an agreement with the inmate parents.
Bolivia’s prisons suffer from severe overcrowding, due in part to a chronically backlogged court system.
Eighty-three percent of the country’s more than 13,800 prisoners are awaiting trial.