The riot began just before sunrise this morning when inmates captured a prison guard during breakfast at the Cascavel State Correctional Facility. The uprising spread throughout the facility, with inmates setting furniture ablaze and using metal poles to destroy other items within the prison.
Miguel Llanela, a correctional officer at the prison, told Brazil Business Today that many of the prison's 1,400 inmates had taken control of 80 percent of the facility. He continued by saying
"It is a tough situation. Police do control the remaining 20 per cent and a negotiator has arrived. But it is hard to know how long this situation will go on for."
An estimated 30 prisoners were seen on the prison roof, chanting as they beat several unidentified men whose hands were tied behind their back and ropes wrapped around their neck. Many of the rioting inmates also waved banners containing the letters ‘PCC’, the initials of a criminal prison gang formed in the 1990s. At least five hostages were thrown from the 15 meter (40 foot) high prison roof. The victims remained on the ground for approximately three hours before rescuers could safely reach them and transport them to University Hospital.
Varying reports on the extend of deaths include 3 from CBS
, Four people are confirmed dead, according to BBC News
. Two men have been decapitated, according to all news outlets surveyed.
Washington Post writes
an inmate has died after being thrown off a roof.
The riots are reportedly due to poor conditions at the prison. Earlier in the day military police spokesman, Captain Ricardo Pinto, stated that negotiators were speaking with inmates about improving the living conditions within the prison. According to Gazeta do Povo
, the negotiations have been suspended by the military police and members of the Department of Justice. They are tentatively scheduled to resume around 7 a.m. local time on Monday.
Meanwhile, at least two prison guards and an unknown number of inmates are still being held hostage, and are reportedly being tortured by their captors. Fox News
reports that the rioters placed the decapitated head of one victim in the lap of the custodian in an effort to intimidate and torture the hostages. Jairo Ferreira, lawyer for the prison guard's union confirmed the report, telling the BBC
"They are using the severed head of one of the prisoners to inflict psychological torture on one of the hostages. There are scenes of terror inside the jail now."
This is not the first time prisoners have beheaded a fellow prisoner. In January, a video
surfaced showing inmates decapitating one prisoner and tossing another off the prison's roof.
Brazil boasts the the world's fourth largest prison population, with half a million inmates in facilities meant to hold 300,000, according to media reports. By comparison, the U.S had 1.5 million prisoners behind bars, via 2012 data
, the last year this metric has been recorded.