MONTEVIDEO – At least 12 people died and seven others were seriously injured in a fire early Thursday at a prison in Rocha, a city in eastern Uruguay, police told Efe.
The cause of the fire, which started around 4:00 a.m. inside a cell, has not been determined, but officials have ruled out arson.
Relatives are trying to identify the 12 dead inmates.
The injured prisoners were taken to the National Burn Center and other hospitals in Montevideo, as well as hospitals in Rocha and Maldonado.
Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi traveled to the prison, where he is conducting an inspection, ministry officials told Efe.
Investigators are looking at a short-circuit that set a blanket on fire as the cause of the blaze in the prison’s cell block two.
The cell block housed 20 of the more than 150 inmates at the low-security prison.
Investigators will also be reviewing the evacuation procedures followed by guards at the prison, which is more than 100 years old and was scheduled to be closed next year due to structural problems, Interior Ministry officials said. EFE