BOGOTA A fire that broke out in a prison in northern Colombia late on Monday has killed at least nine and injured dozens after a fight between inmates following routine inspections for drugs and weapons, local media reports said.
As many as 42 injured inmates were taken to hospital near the overcrowded Modelo prison complex in the coastal city of Barranquilla, according to local media. The flames were brought under control in the early hours of Tuesday.
Four of the victims died in hospital.
The fire began when prisoners ignited their mattresses as guards launched tear gas in a bid to break up the fighting, according to RCN Radio. Prison officials seized drugs, knives and cellular phones during a day of cell inspections, angering inmates and setting off a battle between gangs.
Semana magazine said the fighting kicked off after an argument between two religious groups.
The prison, with capacity for about 400 inmates, houses about 1,200 inmates, RCN said.
(Reporting by Helen Murphy Editing by W Simon)