At least 54 people died and another 80 were wounded in a prison riot in northwestern Venezuela after authorities carried out an inspection, officials told Efe.

"The information we have is that there were 54 fatalities," the director of Central Hospital in Barquisimento, Ruy Medina, in charge of handling the emergency, said.

He added that 12 of the fatalities died in hospital.

Medina said that at 11:00 a.m. Friday, officials of the Bolivarian National Guard, or GNB, began taking around 90 convicts suffering "multiple bullet wounds" to the medical center from Uribana prison in Lara state.

He said thirty of them remain hospitalized "with wounds of a certain gravity."

Medina also said the GNB told him that there had been a clash Friday between police agents and inmates when the authorities set about making an inspection of the prison.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Saturday that he was sorry about the killings during the riot and announced that the Attorney General's Office and Congress will investigate these "sad" occurrences.

"There was a tragic situation of confusion that we regret, that we regret very much," Maduro said upon his arrival before dawn Saturday in the country from Cuba, where he had visited President Hugo Chavez, and without giving precise numbers spoke of a "regrettable death toll." EFE