A prison riot in Colombia’s capital Bogotá left 23 prisoners dead and 83 injured, the country’s justice minister said on Sunday, as detainees protested about sanitary conditions amid the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Thirty-two injured prisoners had been hospitalised, justice minister Margarita Cabello Blanco said in a video, while seven prison guards were also injured. Two guards were in a critical condition.
The country will enter a nationwide lockdown meant to stem infections from Tuesday night. So far, 231 people have been confirmed infected with the disease and two have died.
“Today is a very sad and painful day,” Cabello Blanco said. “Last night there was a mass criminal escape attempt at the La Modelo prison and riots in various detention centres around the country.”
Graphic mobile phone videos were posted to social media late on Saturday showing what appeared to be the inside of the prisons. Some showed small fires, others were of injured prisoners and guards.
In one video, a man says the incarcerated have been “abandoned like dogs” amid the virus outbreak.
Reuters could not independently verify the origin or authenticity of the videos.
No prisoners escaped during the riots, Cabello Blanco said.
“There is not any sanitary problem that would have caused this plan and these riots. There is not one infection nor any prisoner or custodial or administrative staffer who has coronavirus,” she added.
The second Colombian to die from coronavirus was a 70-year-old woman in the city of Cali, the health ministry said on Sunday. Her daughter had arrived in Colombia from Cuba, where she had been in contact with a person from the US who has tested positive for the virus.
The daughter currently has a cough, the ministry said in a statement, while the victim’s 74-year-old husband is hospitalised and has tested positive for the virus.