‘Dozens dead’ in Mexico prison riot

Media captionStreets outside the prison were blocked by families worried about relatives inside

Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in a riot and a fire at a prison in northern Mexico.

Some inmates are also said to have escaped from the Topo Chico prison near the city of Monterrey.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the complex, Mexican broadcaster Televisa reported.

Streets outside the jail were blocked by families worried about relatives inside. Riot police were holding the crowd back.

“I want to know that my daughter is OK. She is in the infirmary. There are children in there,” one woman said.

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Riot police quickly moved in after the violence and fire broke out at Topo Chico prison

It was not immediately clear how many people had died. Televisa put the toll at 30, while Milenio TV said 50 people had been killed.

Milenio said inmates and guards were among the casualties.

Topo Chico prison

  • Heavily overcrowded, with prisoners reportedly sleeping in the corridors
  • Female prisoners complain of being forced into sexual slavery by male inmates
  • Members of rival drug gangs Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel target each other
  • In 2011, Topo Chico’s security chief was abducted, killed and his body dismembered
  • Previous escape attempts have involved digging tunnels and even a grenade attack from outside the prison walls

The Nuevo Leon state government said the situation had been brought under control but gave no details on what had happened.

Witnesses reported hearing shouts and explosions when the fire began in the early hours of Thursday.

Mexican newspaper El Universal said one of four buildings in the prison had been set alight by inmates burning furniture and rubbish.

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Anxious relatives complained of a lack of information from prison officials

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Outbreaks of deadly violence are not uncommon in Mexican prisons

The cause of the riot was not clear. One report said it had been triggered by an escape attempt by prisoners belonging to the notorious Zetas drugs cartel.

Gang violence and break-outs are common in Mexico’s notoriously overcrowded and corrupt prison system.

In 2012, 44 inmates were killed in a riot at the Apodaca prison in Monterrey. Another 30 prisoners escaped. The prison’s director was later sacked.

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Some relatives tried to stop traffic leaving the jail

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