Thai prison set on fire during riot over COVID-19 cluster

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Hundreds of prisoners set fire to a Thai jail during a two-day riot over the handling of a coronavirus cluster, with some inmates wounded as officers sought to restore order.

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Thai prisons are notoriously overcrowded and have struggled to curb the spread of the virus -- more than 87,000 inmates have been infected with 185 recorded deaths, according to the Corrections Department.

Authorities were set to inspect the damage Saturday after some 400 prisoners in the southern Thai jail went on a rampage starting Thursday night, demanding that inmates with the coronavirus be removed.

The prison has a population of more than 2100 and roughly 300 have tested positive.

Inmates set fire to their sleeping quarters Friday evening, following another fire a day earlier, with 31 people subsequently arrested.

They had been taken to a high security prison, deputy national police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said.

“There are no fatalities, only minor injuries,” he added, after local media reported 14 of the inmates were wounded with rubber bullets.

“The situation has been brought under control since last night and prison officials will inspect any damage that occurred,” a Krabi government official told AFP.

Almost 93 percent of Thailand’s 281,535 inmates have been fully vaccinated, according to the Corrections Department.

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