Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters
At least 68 people died when a fire broke out in a jail in the prison area of a police station in Venezuela, the country's chief prosecutor said late Wednesday night.
Venezuela Attorney General Tarek William Saab wrote on Twitter that 66 of the victims were men while two women who visited the police station overnight were also killed.
He wrote that four prosecutors would investigate "to clarify" what happened at the police station in the city of Valencia, located in the north of the country about 100 miles west of the capital Caracas.
Angry relatives of detainees gathered to put police in riot gear in front of the facility where the police fired tear gas to disperse the masses.
I do not know if my son is dead or alive! "Aida Parra told the Associated Press." They did not tell me. "
Venezuelan jails are notoriously crowded and in poor condition Workers at the scene told The New York Times that the prison, which is part of the police station, has capacity According to the AP, the fire spread over mattresses in jail.
"Corruption, weak security, deteriorating infrastructure, overcrowding, insufficient staffing and poorly trained guards allow armed gangs effective control over inmate populations within Prisoners' Land, Human Rights Watch wrote as part of its 2018 World Review.
The journalism and research group InSight Crime said that since 2015, around 50,000 prisoners have been held in prisons for only 19,000. Prison cells that are designated for temporary housing were in 33,000 people packed in outer space destined for 5,000, the group said. The cells "are so full that the prisoners have to take turns sleeping on the floor."
The organization also said Venezuela's prisons, with more than 6,400 murders between 1999 and 2014, were among the "most violent in the world". 19659008] A prison fire in Zulia State in Venezuela in 1994 killed more than 100 prisoners, according to AP.