RIO DE JANEIRO: Nine juvenile detainees died Friday during a fire that was started when inmates lit a mattress during a riot, authorities said Friday.
The facility, located in the city of Goiania, is used to temporarily hold minors between the ages of 13 and 17.
The riot followed an attempt by administrators to move some of the detainees from one cell to another, said Gilles Sebastian Gomes, a lawyer for the human rights commission of state of Goias.
Gomes, who is in touch with families of detainees, said the center is only equipped to hold 50 people but often has upward of 80 or 90 inmates.
"The cells are small and overcrowded, and there is a significant lack of staff," he said.
An investigation would be conducted and the families of victims would be provided support, the state government said in a statement. The statement confirmed nine detainees died but did not provide more details.
Brazil has one of the largest prison populations in the world. Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of prisoners have not been sentenced or are awaiting trial.