Prison fire amid Tunisian unrest kills 42

January 15, 2011

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Tunisia
Riot police officers run toward protesters during clashes in Tunis, January 14, 2011. — Photo by AP

TUNIS: A coroner said 42 people died in a fire at a prison in a Tunisian coastal resort town as unrest swept the North African country after its long-time president was forced out by protests.

Tarek Mghirbi, a coroner in the resort city of Monastir, said 42 bodies were brought to his office.

He said all the victims appeared to have either burned to death or to have suffered smoke inhalation. He said the cause of Saturday's prison fire was unclear.

Massive street protests over corruption and unemployment forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country Friday night after 23 years of iron-fisted rule. In the last 24 hours, unrest, looting and arson have erupted.