At least 29 inmates, including a child with incarcerated parents, have been killed at a prison in eastern Bolivia after clashes between rival gangs set off a huge fire.

Another 50 were wounded in early's Friday blaze as a result of flames in maximum-security Palmasola prison outside the country's biggest city, Santa Cruz.

"Of those hospitalised, 35 of them have very serious injuries," Ramiro Llanos, prisons director, told AFP news agency.

Authorities called on local residents to donate blood to help the wounded.

Alberto Aracena, the national police chief, that there was a fight for control in the prison in two prison blocks.

He said prisoners in block A had detonated a metal propane tank in block B around dawn.

Radio Erbol reported from the scene that shots were heard after the explosion.

Wounded evacuated

Prosecutors entered the prison to count the victims as ambulances evacuated the wounded.

Some relatives of prisoners crowded around the ambulances, peering inside to see if they knew who was aboard.

Authorities said it took more than four hours to get the prison under control.

At midday, a column of smoke continued to rise from the prison although officials said the fire had been controlled.

Aracena said about 256 prisoners were evacuated.

As in many Latin American prisons, inmates largely control the inside of Palmasola, which houses 3,500 inmates, most awaiting trial.

Source: Agencies