Seven inmates died Tuesday after a riot at an overcrowded prison in the northern Brazilian state of Para following a failed escape attempt, authorities said. After 16 prisoners tried but failed to escape through an air duct during the early hours of the morning, after they were detected by security cameras, a riot broke out. Some 120 prisoners took part in the violence, setting light to a room housing generators, leading to “a part of the cells, infirmary and prison secretariat being destroyed,” the prison source said. Six prisoners were killed by fellow inmates while a seventh died from burns. The rioting prisoners were demanding quicker judgements, improved conditions and the replacement of the prison’s director.
The prison has a capacity for 208 inmates but holds 374. The riot comes a week after heavily armed men blew down the front gate of a maximum security prison in the northeast, enabling 92 inmates to escape while killing a policeman. Brazil has the world’s third largest prison population, with 726,712 inmates as of June 2016, according to official statistics. The population is double the capacity of the nation’s prisons, which in 2016 was estimated to be 368,049 inmates. Along with severe overcrowding, Brazil’s prisons are plagued by gang violence, while riots and breakout attempts are not uncommon.