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Philippine Prison Fire Kills 10 Inmates

Ten inmates have been killed in a fire that destroyed a dormitory at a maximum security prison in the central Philippines, officials said Friday.

The blaze Thursday was the second in two years to hit the Leyte Regional Prison in Leyte province, Bureau of Corrections spokesman Roberto Olaguer said.

Olaguer said the fire may have been caused by faulty wiring in the building that was built after the earlier fire in 2013.

“This was a maximum security building and it was padlocked. So maybe when the fire happened suddenly, it may not have been unlocked immediately,” Olaguer said, adding he had no other details and that a senior prison official from Manila was on his way to Leyte to investigate.

Philippine prisons are notoriously overcrowded and have poor facilities. The Bureau of Corrections says the prison has a capacity of 500 inmates but housed 1,895 before the fire, including 1,256 in the maximum security building. On its website, the bureau said the prison's facilities were “often below par” compared to other prisons.

The entire facility held 1,895 prisoners, including 1,256 at the maximum security building that burned, Olaguer said.

He said inmates displaced by the fire will be housed in a minimum security compound.

The 42-year-old prison was also damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record to hit the Philippines, in November 2013, he said.