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700 inmates die in Zimbabwe prison

May 19, 2009 at 2:31 PM   |   Comments

HARARE, Zimbabwe, May 19 (UPI) -- Appalling conditions in Zimbabwe's Chikurubi prison have resulted in at least 700 of its 1,300 inmates dying in the last year, local media reported.

The Zimbabwe weekly The Standard said the maximum security prison, located about 12 miles east of Harare, has one of the highest deaths rates in the world, ranking it among the worst jails in human history, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Six inmates were found dead in their filthy cells on Monday, with a similar number dying last weekend, the Standard reported. About 100 rat-mutilated bodies were stacked up in the prison mortuary waiting to be claimed or buried in pauper's graves within the prison walls.

The weekly reported the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy has resulted in medical care and food being cut off for Chikurubi inmates, leaving them exposed to diseases and starvation.

The International Red Cross has been allowed by Zimbabwe's new coalition government to help with conditions at the prison, but 327 deaths were recorded at Chikurubi between November and January, the Telegraph said.

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