Six dead as prison riots sweep Italy sparked by coronavirus emergency laws

Six prisoners are dead after a riot that was sparked by protests over an emergency law to protect them from coronavirus.

About 60 inmates in Modena, Italy, set fire to the prison during an uprising that went on for hours, according to officials.

Riots have broken out at five prisons since the Government locked down northern Italy and 16million residents.

In Modena, near Bologna, Army soldiers and Carabinieri officers surrounded the prison to prevent the inmates from escaping into the town.

The revolt started at about 2pm local time on Sunday after prisoners were told that the Government's emergency decree banned family and friends from visiting in a bid to prevent the spread of the flu-like illness.

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Order was eventually restored and prisoners were returned to their cells.

Two prison officers were injured.

There riot began as the families of some inmates protested outside the building.

Riots occurred at at least five prisons due to the new coronavirus protection measures.

In Foggia, some inmates managed to escape a prison but they were blocked from leaving the site, which was surrounded by armed police.

Inmates climbed onto a roof as police looked on.

Riots also occurred at prisons in Naples Poggioreale, Frosinone and Alexandria over measures including a ban on family visits, unions said.

The Italian government said that under new measures effective from Sunday, people were not allowed to enter or leave the Lombardy region, which surrounds Milan, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.

More than 7,300 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Italy and at least 366 have died.

The UK said anyone returning from areas in northern Italy which have been placed under a lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus must self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they show any symptoms of illness.

Those returning from any other areas in Italy who develop any symptoms have also been instructed to self-isolate, the ministry said.

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