Rio de Janeiro - A fire claimed the lives of eight inmates at a Brazilian prison in the early hours of Wednesday, according to media reports quoting officials.
The tragedy took place in the prison in the town of Rio Piracicaba, in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais. The police mentioned a short-circuit at a cell as the likely cause of the fire.
The flames initially had to be fought by volunteers, with the assistance of a water truck belonging to municipal authorities. It took an hour for fire department in the larger city of Itabira - some 40 kilometres away - to reach the scene, the reports said.
Eight of the facility's 23 inmates died of suffocation or as a result of the burns they suffered.
The police responsible for prison safety blamed inmates for the accident, noting that they often improvise illegal electric connections in their cells.
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