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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Argentina investigates jail fire
Relatives of inmates of the Magdalena prison scuffle with police officers
Some relatives briefly scuffled with the police
The authorities in Argentina are trying to identify a number of bodies after a deadly prison fire on Sunday.

At least 32 inmates died and six were injured in a blaze during an uprising at a jail in Magdalena, south-east of the capital.

Nine bodies have not been identified, said Buenos Aires province Justice Minister Eduardo Di Rocco.

The blaze was started during a fight, when prisoners set mattress and blankets on fire.

The smoke and flames spread quickly.

Mr Di Rocco said most of those killed died from asphyxiation, but some of the bodies also had knife wounds sustained during the fight. A prison warden received serious head injuries.

The bodies were taken to the jail chapel for identification. Hundreds of families gathered outside the prison desperate for news of jailed relatives, and there were some scuffles with the police.

Protest

An investigation into the uprising is under way.

Earlier there had been a protest at the prison demanding better conditions and longer visiting hours for Mother's Day, but the authorities deny the fire was started as part of the protest.

The BBC's Tom Gibb in the region says riots and fires are increasingly common in Argentina's jails, as they are in the rest of Latin America.

The prisons have become overcrowded in the last decade and the country has faced a serious crime wave following the collapse of the economy four years ago.

Earlier this year, eight people died after inmates rioted at Argentina's Cordoba prison.


SEE ALSO:
Argentine fire kills 32 inmates
16 Oct 05 |  Americas
Argentine prisoners 'end riots'
11 Feb 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Argentina
30 Aug 05 |  Country profiles


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