Fire rips through prison leaving inmates trapped on roof and 3 with severe burns

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A fire ripped through a maximum-security prison in the central African country of Cameroon today leaving three inmates hospitalised with severe burns.

New Bell jail in Douala was engulfed in flames and prisoners had no choice but to try and get to the roof to escape the suffocating smoke, with shocked witnesses recording the disaster on their phones

In a video, shared on Twitter by user Mbazoa Yannick, frantic prisoners on the roof of the building shout and wave their arms at the people down below.

An iron bar is thrown down into the street and horns blast in the background.

Behind the prisoners, a dense column of choking black smoke is pouring out of the prison.

Prisoners shout while the fire rages behind them
Prisoners shout while the fire rages behind them
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A crew of firefighters managed to bring the fire under control and it didn’t spread beyond New Bell jail, which is situated in a tightly-packed part of the city.

Fire brigade chief Kadrey Abdiel said: “The operation was made more difficult by the layout and the large number of inmates.

He said that three inmates were taken to hospital with serious burn injuries.

Two firefighters were also injured, he added.

Governor Samuel Ivaha Diboua told local media that some inmates attempted to climb over the prison walls during the fire, but were stopped by police officers guarding the perimeter.

The jail, alleged to be overcrowded, houses around 2,500 prisoners despite having a maximum capacity of 800, according to a report by Amnesty International in 2011.

It’s not immediately clear what started the fire and there is no update as the condition of the injured prisoners and firefighters.


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