DAMASCUS- ''At five o'clock in the morning, a prisoner set fire to a mattress and bed clothes at one of the prison's cells, then fire burst and dense smoke spread in the cell,'' Commander of Lattakia Police Kamal Fateih said.
''25 prisoners were rushed to Lattakia National Hospital, 8 of which died of suffocation and severe burns,'' Fateih added.
A prisoner set fire on Monday to a cell at Lattakia Central Prison, leaving 8 inmates dead and two policemen injured.
Commander of Lattakia Police added that police and firemen rushed to put out the flames and evacuate prisoners, adding that because of the tight closure of doors from inside by iron beds, the police had to create two holes in the concrete wall for ventilation and rescuing the injured. He said that two policemen sustained injuries of suffocation and burns while extinguishing the fire and evacuating prisoners, adding that the rest of the injured are in a stable health condition.
The cell is dedicated for prisoners charged with serious crimes of homicide and drugs, with some serving life sentences.
Director of the National Hospital in Lattakia Monzer Bagdad said the cases that the hospital received range from burns of various degrees to suffocation as a result of smoke inhalation, clarifying that 5 of the injured will go under medication because of their severe burns.
The two injured policemen said they took part in extinguishing fire and rescuing prisoners, clarifying that the policemen sought to enter from the cell door immediately after the fire burst, but some prisoners hindered the evacuation and stacked beds blocking the entrance of the cell which necessitated creating hole in the cell wall for ventilation and entering inside.
A number of prisoners who were admitted to the hospital said that those who closed the door of the cell prevented them from leaving, threatened them and one of them set fire to mattresses, pillows and bedclothes, adding that some suffocated and others sustained burns.