Venezuela prison
National guard General Antonio Benavidez walks next to inmates sitting in the prison of 'El Rodeo' in Guatire, outside Caracas Reuters/Ho New

At least twenty people have died so far in an ongoing prison uprising in Venezuela. The prisoner-riot began on June 12, and national security forces have been fighting to retake control of the facility.

Around 5,000 members of the National Guard are now in or around the correctional facility in Guatire, 50 kilometers from Caracas. Venezuelan authorities say that they have contained most of the prisoners, save 50 who are still making trouble.

On Sunday, a fire broke out, but it is thought to be contained. No injuries were reported from the blaze, which was thought to be an electrical fire, and power has been cut to the facility.

So far, 2,500 inmates have been bused to other prisons in the country for safety. Around 1,000 still remain in El Rodeo I.

Humberto Prado, director of the non-governmental Venezuelan Prison Observatory, told the Agence France Presse that El Rodeo I held 3,600 inmates, even though it was designed to hold only 750 people.

According to reports, the National Guard seized seven rifles, five shotguns, three carbines, one submachine gun, 20 guns and four revolvers, found 91 clips and eight hand grenades.

Two members of the security forces and at least one prisoner were killed in clashes over the weekend.

Family members have set up camp outside El Rodeo I, forced about one kilometer away by security troops. Around 500 people, mostly mothers, wives and girlfriends wait outside the prison waiting for news from inside.

The situation inside the prison remains unclear, and the Venezuelan government has not released much information. Many outside the facility - who have been sleeping on the streets for days - fear loved ones are dead or injured. They say that authorities are hiding the deaths.

I don't know if he's dead or alive. And when we try to ask, they [the troops] just fire tear gas at us. Or sometimes 'just' water cannon. Yuselis Paez, whose husband Hector Pacheco is inside the prison, told the BBC.

Gang violence and riots in prisons are not uncommon in the South American country. Between January and March of this year, 124 people died in Venezuelan penal institutions. Over the same period in 2010, 102 prisoners were killed.

The deadliest prison riot in Venezuela happened in 1999, when 27 prisoners were killed in a fight with security personnel.