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Italy inmates at large after coronavirus-related prison riots

The riots broke out after corrections authorities suspended or limited family visits for two weeks to prevent the spread of infections.

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Police stand in front of the entrance of Rebibbia prison (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Police stand in front of the entrance of Rebibbia prison (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Police stand in front of the entrance of Rebibbia prison (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Twelve prison inmates died of drug overdoses and 16 others escaped during riots at more than two dozen prisons sparked by new coronavirus containment measures in Italy, the justice minister has said.

The riots on Sunday and Monday broke out after corrections authorities suspended or limited family visits for two weeks to prevent the spread of infections.

While briefing the Italian parliament on the prison riots, justice minister Alfonso Bonafede said the unrest involved some 6,000 prisoners at facilities around the country.

Mr Bonafede confirmed on Wednesday that 16 inmates broke out of a medium-security prison in Foggia and remained at large.

Inmates stage a protest against new rules to cope with the coronavirus emergency on the roof of San Vittore prison in Milan, Italy
Inmates stage a protest against new rules to cope with the coronavirus emergency on the roof of San Vittore prison in Milan (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

The 12 prisoners who died overdosed after breaking into prison infirmaries.

The minister said 40 prison guards were injured.

Anxiety about the virus and overcrowding fuelled the protest over the family visit decision.

The Italian Justice Ministry said 100,000 face masks have been allocated to protect prison guards, personnel and inmates alike.

PA