Burundi: fire at Gitega central prison kills dozens

View of Gitega, Burundi.

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Text by: RFI Follow

1 min

In Burundi, the central prison of the capital Gitega was devastated by a fire early this Tuesday morning.

There are 38 dead and 69 seriously injured, according to the Burundian vice-president who visited the scene, at the head of a government delegation.

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Prosper Bazombanza, and four of his ministers (those of the Interior, Justice, Health and Solidarity) were on site at the end of the morning to observe the damage to the central prison of Gitega.

The origin of the fire is not yet known.

He reportedly declared himself around 4 a.m. local time, surprising the inmates in their sleep.

Witnesses confirm to AFP having seen huge flames rise and completely burn parts of the prison building.

An overcrowded establishment

One of the prisoners on the phone said he shouted

"we are going to be burned alive, but

, he continues,

the police refused to open the doors to our neighborhood, saying

" these are the orders we have received " 

".

Co-inmates burned in front of his eyes.

#Burundi: the central prison of Gitega (Center) in flames, according to witnesses present on the spot who already speak of “enormous damage”.

Several neighborhoods were reportedly charred.

There is a lot of concern about the fate of prisoners… pic.twitter.com/y7lRie1ZOF

- esdras ndikumana (@rutwesdras) December 7, 2021

According to other witnesses, firefighters arrived two hours after the start of the fire, before around 20 injured were evacuated to hospitals.

In August, a fire had already broken out in Gitega prison due to a short circuit, it had no casualties.

This time the toll is very heavy, but the establishment is overcrowded with, according to the prison administration: 1539 inmates for only 400 beds.

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  • Burundi

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