Fire kills 32 in Argentine prison

A fire apparently set by rebellious inmates swept through a prison southeast of Buenos Aires on Sunday, killing at least 32 inmates.

The fire spread rapidly through a cell block in the prison in Magdalena, 45 miles southeast of Buenos Aires. Authorities said inmates had set mattresses and blankets alight, demanding more visiting hours for relatives.

Broadcast network Todo Noticias showed anxious relatives waiting for word about loved ones outside the prison as a heavy police and National Guard contingent ringed the complex, reports the AP.

Eduardo Di Rocco, the justice minister in Buenos Aires province, denied initial local media reports that inmates had revolted to have visiting hours extended.

"It appears the 32 dead perished from carbon monoxide inhalation," Di Rocco told local television station TN, referring to the prison in Magdalena, 75 miles (120 km) southeast of the capital of Buenos Aires.

He attributed the incident, which lasted through the night and was quelled on Sunday morning, to inmate infighting.

Several family members said they saw corpses "piled on top of one another" when they entered the jail in the early morning hours.

"This was a total massacre," said one woman, who at midday was anxiously waiting outside the jail along with hundreds of other family members to find out which inmates had died.

Six prisoners were injured but none of them seriously, the justice ministry said. Four prison guards suffered burns and two were wounded, including the warden, who was in grave condition after inmates struck his head with a wooden object, informs Reuters.