A prison fire set off during a riot killed at least 81 inmates at a Chilean prison on Wednesday and seriously injured at least 14 others, officials said.
National prison police director Luis Masferrer said the blaze broke out at about 5:30 a.m. at the San Miguel prison south of the capital, and it was brought under control three hours later.
Hundreds of anxious relatives of inmates gathered outside the prison gates. Some told state television that prison police had closed the gates to the prison, impeding access for firemen, The Associated Press reports.
"We are trying to identify the 81 dead inmates now," said a spokesman for the state prison system.
Family members gathered outside, screaming at police to let them into the prison to rescue their relatives.
Mr Concha Soto claimed police acted quickly despite having to cope with a prison population of 1,900 in a building that was designed for just 700 inmates.
Health Minister Jaime Manalich told reporters that the 14 injured prisoners were so badly burned that their fate is uncertain, Sky News reports.
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