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Brazilian inmates die in sewers during jailbreak

Recaptured prisoners sit against a wall after an escape attempt Sunday. At least six attempted escapees suffocated in sewers.
Recaptured prisoners sit against a wall after an escape attempt Sunday. At least six attempted escapees suffocated in sewers.

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SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- At least six Brazilian prisoners suffocated in a sewer after an attempted escape from the Sao Paulo State Penitentiary on Sunday afternoon, the state Security Secretariat said.

In all, 87 inmates fled the penitentiary around 2 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) through a series of sewage pipes and tunnels. Police recaptured 13 fugitives in a house 500 yards (metres) away where a tunnel had been dug to meet up with the sewers.

"They knew the sewage system well. There should still be prisoners running around there," said a spokesman for the state Security Secretariat.

In addition to the confirmed six dead, another seven prisoners are suspected to have died in the labyrinth of pipes around the prison after losing their way, bringing the total estimated number of dead to 13, officials said.

Authorities were using a backhoe tractor to dig out the dead prisoners still believed to be entombed in the pipes.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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