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At least 83 people burned to death in the San Miguel prison in Santiago, Chile, last Wednesday. Fourteen more sustained serious burns. The fire was deliberately started during a dispute between prisoners on the fourth floor of the detention center. Located in the Chilean capital, the prison was built for a maximum of 1,100 inmates, but it was completely overcrowded with more than 1,900 prisoners at the time of the fire.

“This is probably the worst tragedy of our whole prison system,” said Minister of Health Jaime Manalich, who had become internationally known several weeks ago during the rescue of the miners. This tragedy is considered the heaviest incident of the South American country since the earthquake in March.

Below is a TWR listener letter sent from this very prison in August 2010:

Dear friends at Radio Transmundial Chile,

We are writing these lines from the prison San Miguel in Santiago de Chile. We are 24 prisoners who walk together in faith. With this card we want to thank you for the literature that reached us through Pastor Francisco Devora, who visits us weekly and teaches us the Word of God…Thank you for this sign of love to us. We all want to learn more about God by listening to your programs that strengthen our faith. Thank you for your support and care. Please continue your radio work as through this you help so many people in different places. We hope that one day we will be able to meet you in person.

The group of prisoners in faith

Discover more about TWR’s ministry in Chile by clicking here to visit this Spanish-language website.