Did 400 Inmates Die at the Gitega Prison Fire in Burundi?

On December 7, 2021, this tweet shared a video claimed to be from a fire incident in a prison in Gitega, Burundi. The tweet adds that 400 people were reported dead in this fire. In this fact-check, we establish the accurate number of victims from this incident.

Background

On December 7, 2021, fire broke out at the Central Prison of Gitega in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city. This according to a tweet by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, resulted from a short-circuit. Residents of Gitega said that inmates raised an alarm as they tried to save themselves from the cells that were already on fire.

According to Deutsche Welle, more than 1,500 inmates were held at this prison that was designed to accommodate 400 inmates. The DW report adds that this was the second fire incident in the same prison this year. The first incident that was experienced in August had no casualties reported.

Verification

In this recent incident, multiple reports confirm that 38 prisoners died in the fire while 69 others were critically injured as of December 7, 2021. 12 of these died from suffocation as they tried to escape the cells while the other 26 succumbed to injuries from the fire. Speaking to Reuters, a resident of Gitega said many of those who died were elderly people.

Verdict

Claims that 400 inmates died in a fire at Gitega Central Prison in Burundi are FALSE. 

This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.

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Nyakerario Omari

Nyakerario J. Omari is a Kenyan writer and journalist with a passion for in-depth stories told through documentaries. She has an interest in reporting matters concerning health, crime and human rights.