Six prisoners have died in a Modena prison after riots broke out in several Italian jails following the suspension of visits to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to authorities.
Riots occurred on Sunday in Modena, Frosinone, Naples, Pavia, Alessandria and Foggia prisons, according to a statement by the Italian justice ministry. The disturbances ended on Sunday evening.
"The protests concerned the coronavirus emergency, as well as the measures issued by the government to reduce the risk of infection and protect those who lives and works within the prison," the statement wrote.
During the Modena prison riot, prisoners occupied the entire prison including the infirmary where they got hold of various drugs including methadone, the director of the Italian penitentiary system, Francesco Basentini, said in an interview Monday.
Two of the dead died of an overdose, one of inhalation of toxic smoke and three died after all the inmates were moved to another prison -- those deaths are still being investigated.
Basentini explained that a prison in Salerno, in southern Italy, was the first to riot last Saturday, leading to a “wave” of revolts.
In Modena, all inmates have been moved to nearby buildings as the prison is unusable, according to the ministry.
Italian lockdown: This comes after a Sunday decree put most of Italy's north under lockdown in a bid to contain the virus. While Modena is not affected by the lockdown, restrictions have been imposed throughout the rest of Italy, including the suspension of events at cinemas, theaters, museums and sports arenas.
This comes as Italy has recorded 7,375 cases and 366 deaths, the most fatalities outside mainland China.