Caracas (Venezuela): In one of the fiercest prison riots, the death toll from the clashes between prisoners and the securitymen at a Venezuelan jail shot up to 61, hospital authorities said.
The Uribana prison in Venezuela witnessed a deadly prison riot on Friday with the initial death toll reported to be 50.
Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela said yesterday that officials had begun evacuating inmates from the Uribana prison in Barquisimeto and transferring them to other facilities, but she did not provide an official death toll.
Ruy Medina, director of Central Hospital in the city of Barquisimeto said that nearly all of the injuries were from gunshots and that 45 of the estimated 120 people who were wounded remained hospitalised. Some underwent surgeries for their wounds.
Relatives wept outside the prison during the violence, and cried at the morgue Saturday as they waited to identify bodies.
The riot was the latest in a series of deadly clashes in Venezuela`s overcrowded and often anarchical prisons, where inmates typically obtain weapons and drugs with the help of corrupt guards. Critics called it proof that the government is failing to get a grip on a worsening national crisis in its penitentiaries.
The gunbattles seized attention amid uncertainty about President Hugo Chavez`s future, while he remained in Cuba recovering and undergoing treatment more than six weeks after his latest cancer surgery.
Government officials pledged a thorough investigation, while some critics said there should have been ways for the authorities to prevent such bloodshed.
Nayibe Mendez, the mother of a 22-year-old inmate in the prison, told the AP that she was able to talk by phone with her son and he was uninjured.
"What they say is that there were shots all over the place, and they don`t know where they came from," Mendez said. "It was a massacre. A full list hasn`t come out of the dead and injured."
With Agency Inputs