A fire broke out at a prison in the Chilean capital early today, killing 81 inmates and injuring many more, including a firefighter, prison officials said, in the worst-ever accident in the country's jail system.
"We are trying to identify the 81 dead inmates now," said a spokesman for the state prison system. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire.
Television footage showed flames engulfing the San Miguel prison and black smoke billowing from the building.
Some inmates waved their hands through bars in one wing of the prison, as frantic family members cried and screamed, imploring police to let them into the prison to rescue their relatives.
Radio station Bio Bio reported that around 200 inmates had to be evacuated into a jail yard due to the third-floor fire.
Television reports said as many as 19 people were injured.