Fiery riot erupts at a Latin American prison, with prisoners reportedly burning cars, running amok

QUITO, Ecuador — At least 37 prisoners were killed and dozens wounded in a riot at a prison in northwestern Ecuador, the country’s official news agency reported Friday.

The Anecdotes news agency quoted prison officials as saying the fighting began Thursday night in a unit housing more than 400 inmates, and continued through the night.

The death toll rose Friday after five inmates were killed in separate incidents at the same prison, said Patricio Contreras, prison director of the Pachamama department, which includes Guayaquil, the nation’s largest city.

Local media reported that a relative of one of the victims said she received the news of her relative’s death during a public call to the prison.

The official for the state prison inspector’s office, Ruben Benitez, told the AP that 34 inmates had been killed and 26 wounded in the riot, adding that some were in grave condition.

Beside the 49 inmates reportedly killed, local media reported that 30 others had suffered injuries.

It was not clear how the riot started, Contreras said.

“We know that it started in the unit of the most violent inmates,” he said.

There were 34 inmates fighting over four months ago but was ended, Contreras said.

Some 18 inmates were killed in a similar riot in a parallel facility, although the exact circumstances are also unclear.

More than 2,000 prisoners were placed in places of immediate danger, Contreras said.

The prison in Pachamama currently houses about 3,200 inmates, with 2,500 in separate divisions.

Police aided by members of the military were trying to restore order. “We are trying to gain control,” Contreras said.

In neighboring Bolivia, authorities said four prisoners died in a riot at a unit of the Ipaca penitentiary complex in Mocoa on Thursday.

In April, at least 16 inmates died and five others were injured in a disturbance in a prison in the Oruro region of southern Bolivia.

In December 2014, at least 32 inmates were killed in a riot in Mocoa.

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