Pressures mounted Saturday for an interim government to replace Burma's besieged socialist leaders amid reports of bloody rioting and near chaos in the Buddhist Southeast Asian nation.

Disaffected former army officers lent their voices to a growing chorus for an interim government to oversee a transition to multiparty democracy and general elections.Radio Rangoon reported bloody prison breakouts and widespread arson and looting of state food warehouses in the capital's suburbs and other parts of the country.

At Insein prison in central Rangoon 36 inmates died, 103 were injured and 513 escaped as the entire jail complex was set ablaze after a riot, the radio said.

It said guards opened fire on inmates streaming out of the penitentiary, which was burning out of control on Saturday. The jail houses political prisoners and common criminals.

Rangoon Radio reported earlier on Saturday that guards had opened fire on 2,000 prisoners who had set their quarters ablaze after demonstrators unsuccessfully tried to storm the jail.

Diplomats said they could still hear gunfire from the jail on Saturday morning.

Another 655 prisoners were released from Insein prison on Saturday for "good behavior," the radio said, without giving further details.

Demonstrators had forced trains to stop running in the northern cities of Mandalay and Pyinmana, Rangoon Radio also said, adding that mobs were looting rice mills and state warehouses.

Protest leaders who have brought hundreds of thousands of people onto Rangoon's streets have issued directives that slogans should concentrate on the demand for democracy and general elections.

Former Defense Minister Gen. Tin U told a boisterous crowd of 10,000 at Rangoon General Hospital: "Under the prevailing circumstances to save the country from disintegration, it is essential to form an interim government."