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Dominican Prison Fire Kills Scores


A fire at a prison in the Dominican Republic has killed at least 120 inmates. Authorities say fewer than 30 inmates in the general population of about 150 inmates survived the fire. The fire reportedly started after a fight between rival gangs seeking to control black-market activities in the prison.

Prison authorities say the fire started when inmates began rioting after a fight between rival gang members was broken up by prison guards, just after midnight on Sunday. The provincial prison is located in the town of Higuey, about 120-kilometers northeast of the capital, Santo Domingo.

Inmates who set fire to bedding material were quickly engulfed in flames. Authorities say guards were unable to enter the building because entrances were reportedly blocked. Helicopters flew injured prisoners to Santo Domingo for treatment on Monday.

Dominican prisons hold more than 13,000 inmates in buildings designed for no more than 9,000.

A recent report from the State Department says virtually all prisons in the country are "extremely overcrowded." The report says "some prisons are totally out of the authorities' control, and are in effect operated by armed inmates."

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