Lebanon: Prison blaze kills three

At least three people died as fire broke out at a prison in eastern Lebanon on Friday (October 6), media reports said.

Prison fire leaves 3 people dead in Lebanon. Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

The incident, which took place at the facility in Zahle- the capital city of the Beqaa Governorate- left 16 others injured.

According to reports, the inmates set fire to their cells in anger after an apparent escape attempt was uncovered.

Police said the blaze started in several cells on the second floor in the main prison after prison guards discovered a hole dug in a wall as part of a planned tunnel, a report from Arab News stated.

Following the discovery prisoners attempted to take several security staff hostage before setting fire to mattresses and blankets in their cells.

A security source told the outlet that the prisoners only released the staff when the fire got out of control, quickly spreading to the upper floors of the prison building.

Civil Defence team reportedly rushed to the spot to bring the blaze under control.

With 620 inmates, Zahle prison is considered as one of the largest in the country.

Lawyer and prison activist Rabih Qais told Arab News that Zahle, like all Lebanese prisons, suffers from overcrowding.

More than 60 percent of prison inmates are of Syrian or other non-Lebanese nationality, he said.