A fire set off by rioting inmates in a severely overcrowded prison killed at least 83 prisoners on Wednesday and seriously injured at least 14, said fire-fighters said. Chileans nationwide could hear the screams of dying inmates in the background as a prisoner used an illegal cell phone to call state television for help.
Police said the blaze broke out at about 5:30 a.m. at the San Miguel prison south of the capital. Chile's Health Minister, Jaime Manalich, called it an “enormous calamity” after arriving at the prison, “probably the worst in the history of our penitentiary system. There's a significant number of dead.” Hundreds of anxious and angry relatives of inmates gathered in a chaotic scene outside the prison gates