81 dead, 19 hurt in Chile prison fire

Santiago, Dec 8 (DPA) A fire at a prison in the Chilean capital of Santiago killed 81 inmates Wednesday, officials said.

Nineteen others were seriously injured, media reports quoted officials as saying.

The accident occurred at the prison of San Miguel, which officially has room for 700 inmates, but houses 1,900.

Firefighters intervened only two hours after the blaze erupted, television reports said.

‘Police did not allow firefighters to enter immediately,’ a witness said outside the penitentiary, from where 200 prisoners were evacuated.

Television footage showed flames bursting from cell windows and the roof of the building.

Hundreds of relatives surrounded the prison, desperate for news on who had been killed or injured. ‘Please do not leave us like this,’ a woman named Maria pleaded.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. The prison was relatively new, reports said.