CARACAS – More than 40 people were reported killed after riots broke out in a prison in Venezuela.

Based on information from the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, inmates at Los Llanos prison, near the western city of Guanare, were angry about lack of food and water. The organization called for an inquiry, expressing doubts about the official version of the government which stated that the prisoners had tried to escape prison.

Prison staff including the governor were injured in the incident, reported on Sunday (05/03/2020).

Venezuelan Prison Minister Iris Varela told a local newspaper that there was an incident at the prison but did not give the death toll. In the report, the incident was described as an attempt by escaped inmates.

Riots in unclean and overcrowded prisons in Latin America have escalated when the government introduced containment measures to help slow the corona virus outbreak.

Quarantine actions can mean that detainees cannot receive food brought by relatives, which they rely on.

According to the Observatory, a prison watchdog organization, at least 46 prisoners have died and the local hospital emergency department was overwhelmed by the number of injured victims.

In a tweet on Twitter, Opposition National Assembly Member Maria Beatriz Martinez described the incident as a “massacre” and said relatives understood that their loved ones would be buried in mass graves.

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