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Security officers stand next to the burned prison in Gitega, Bujumbra, Burundi, on Dec. 7, 2021. Photo AFP/Getty Images


At least 38 inmates were killed and dozens more injured Tuesday in a fire at a prison in Burundi’s capital, officials have said.

Speaking with reporters at the Gitega Prison, Burundi Vice President Prosper Bazombanza said that at least 12 people had died of asphyxia as they tried to escape burning buildings.

At least 26 others died of severe injuries, he said. Bazombanza did not comment on what might have caused the fire.

But in a statement on Twitter, the Burundi interior ministry said an electrical short circuit caused the fire. It confirmed that at least 38 prisoners had died and said Dat least 59 others had been injured.

Photos shared by the interior ministry showed at least one fire truck outside the prison.

One local resident who was near the scene as the tragedy unfolded told Reuters that many of those who died appeared to be elderly prisoners.

The resident said he saw bodies being transported by ambulances from the prison.

A fire broke out at the same prison in August, with an electrical issue also cited as the cause. There were no casualties in that incident. - 

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