Prison fire amid Tunisian unrest kills 42

Unrest sweeps the North African country after its longtime President was forced out by protests.

Updated: Jan 15, 2011, 18:30 PM IST

Unis: A fire at a prison on Saturday in Monastir in eastern Tunisia killed at least 42 inmates, a hospital doctor said.

"Thirty-one bodies were taken to the morgue and another 11 have followed," Dr Ali Chatli, head of the forensic medicine department at Fatouma Bourguiba hospital at Monastir, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Tunis said.
Chatli said the fire was caused by an inmate who set fire to a mattress in a dormitory housing nearly 90 people in an attempt to escape, sparking panic.

The victims died of severe burns and asphyxiation, he said.

The fire comes as Tunisia reels from the ousting of President Zine Abidine Ben Ali after weeks of violent protests against his rule.
Chatli said prisoners also panicked because they heard shots fired outside the jail.

Bureau Report