CARACAS -- At least 13 inmates at a Venezuela prison, all of whom were on hunger strike, have died, according to the Ministry for Public Power of Penitentiary Services.
Authorities said inmates at the prison became violent and started breaking down the walls and doors of the prison areas, with some breaking into the pharmacy.
They proceeded to ingest multiple drugs, including antibiotics, antihypertensive drugs, anti-diabetic agents, anti-epileptic drugs, and alcohol; intoxicating a group of about 145 prisoners who were treated by medical staff at the facility.
The 13 deaths were as a result of ingesting drugs, the ministry statement said.
The inmates, all housed at the David Viloria penitentiary center in Lara State, had started their hunger strike on Monday morning to demand the dismissal of an officer of the ministry, who they believed had been appointed director of the center.
According to broadcaster Globovision, relatives of prisoners have camped out since Tuesday outside the detention center waiting for the Minister of Penitentiary Services Iris Varela to speak to them.
The National Guard has been stationed outside the prison preventing access of media and family.
Globovision also states that a total of 720 prisoners have been transferred to other prisons. However, families are still waiting for Varela to provide details of the transfer.
According to the ministry, the David Viloria center is one of more than 70 new prison centers in the country. They were intended to phase out the old centers, which were plagued by deplorable conditions, lack of control, anarchy and violation of human rights.