Tunis: A fire at a prison today in Monastir in eastern Tunisia killed at least 42 inmates, a hospital doctor said.
"Thirty-one bodies were taken to the morgue and another 11 have followed," Dr Ali Chatli, head of the forensic medicine department at Fatouma Bourguiba hospital at Monastir, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Tunis, told AFP.
Chatli said the fire was caused by an inmate who set fire to a mattress in a dormitory housing nearly 90 people in an attempt to escape, sparking panic.
The victims died of severe burns and asphyxiation, he said.
The fire comes as Tunisia reels from the ouster of President Zine Abidine Ben Ali after weeks of violent protests against his rule.
Chatli said prisoners also panicked because they heard shots fired outside the jail.
Story first published:
January 15, 2011 19:44 IST