The fire started in a cell block with about 200 inmates who lit mattresses and caused a fight during an escape attempt. Authorities indicated that the prisoners died not only as a result of the fire and smoke, but also due to clashes between gangs.
"Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz regretted what happened and announced that he is conducting investigations to determine the causes of the emergency," outlet Semana reported.
Tulua fire brigade spokesman Marco Antonio Orozco confirmed that the fire was related to the burning of mattresses and that some 50 people were transferred to other facilities.
"Colombia’s first leftwing president-elect, Gustavo Petro, is riding a wave of hope. But many challenges that need to be met head-on lie ahead."
Outside the Tulua prison, which has a population of over 1,500 inmates, relatives of the detainees were waiting for the authorities to provide them with information about the situation of their relatives.
According to the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC), the fight would have been caused by disputes between gangs for control of pavilion 8.
A similar tragedy occurred in March 2020 when inmates at Bogota's Modelo Prison began a protest demanding biosecurity measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On that occasion, 24 inmates died and over 100 were injured.
After Gustavo Petro's victory as president of Colombia, the Government confirms the meeting to be held with outgoing President Ivan Duque. This meeting will define the agenda to start the transition of power #GustavoPetro#Colombiapic.twitter.com/jztbfdzOEo