RIO DE JANEIRO. (THECOUNT) — Authorities say at least 52 victims have been reported during a riot at the Altamira prison in northern Brazil. At least 16 of the dead were said to have been decapitated.
Inmates also set part of the facility on fire, preventing authorities from entering. The total number of victims could rise much higher, according to officials.
Para state prison officials say the other victims were asphyxiated in a resulting fire.
Authorities say a fight between criminal groups erupted early Monday, reports AP.
No members of the prison’s staff were injured.
Conditions at a prison in Brazil where 57 inmates were killed in fighting on Monday have been described as "terrible" in an official report.
The National Justice Council said that Altamira jail in north-eastern Pará state contained more than double the number of inmates it was built for.
It also said that there were not enough guards to guarantee inmates' safety.
Deadly fights are not uncommon in Brazil, which has the world's third-largest prison population.
The violence broke out at 07:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on Monday when members of a criminal gang housed in Block A of the jail, invaded an annex where members of a rival gang were locked up.
Sixteen inmates were decapitated in the fight which followed. Many more died from smoke asphyxiation after the fighting prisoners set a cell on fire.
Video taken from outside the prison showed smoke billowing from the building and inmates walking around on rooftops.
The inmates also took two prison officers hostage but released them after negotiations with civil and military police.
The fighting lasted for about five hours.
Geo quick facts: Altamira is one of one hundred and forty-four municipalities in the state of Pará, in northern Brazil. It has an area of 161,446 square kilometres or 62,335 square miles, making it the largest municipality by area both in Pará state and Brazil and until 2009 it was the world’s largest municipal subdivision – Wikipedia.