At least 10 people have been killed and dozens injured after a fire broke out in a prison in northern Colombia.

The fire began on Monday at the jail in the coastal city of Barranquilla after a fight between inmates following routine inspections for drugs and weapons, local media reports said.

Prisoners ignited their mattresses after guards launched tear gas in a bid to break up the fighting, according to RCN Radio.

As many as 42 injured inmates were taken to hospital near the overcrowded Modelo prison, according to local media.

The flames were brought under control in the early hours of Tuesday.

Four of the victims died of the burns at a hospital, while the other six fatalities occured inside the prison.

Prison officials had seized drugs, knives and mobile phones during a day of cell inspections, angering inmates and setting off a battle between gangs.

Semana magazine said the fighting began after an argument between two religious groups.

The prison, with an official capacity for about 400 inmates, houses about 1,200 inmates, RCN said.

Source: Agencies