The death toll from a spate of prison riots in Ecuador on Tuesday has climbed to 79, the National Service of Comprehensive Attention to Adults Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI) said on Wednesday.
The organisation said in a statement it raised the death toll after four more deaths were registered in the past few hours in prisons in the provinces of Azuay (south), Guayas (southwest) and Cotopaxi (center), the Xinhua news agency reported.
"SNAI continues to collect information on human losses and other aspects related to the confrontations that have arisen," said the organisation responsible for prison administration and control.
The fatal clashes between rival criminal gangs have shocked the South American country, which has never seen these types of prison riots before.
According to the initial investigations, the riots were sparked by a power struggle within the prisons after the murder in December of Jorge Luis Zambrano, alias "Rasquina," leader of the so-called "Los Choneros" gang, which is considered highly dangerous.
The commander of the National Police, Patricio Carrillo, lamented the extent of the violence.
"The manifestations of hatred, revenge and cruelty expressed today in the country's prisons are not only messages from organised crimes, they are also evidence of the mental health of the system," Carrillo posted to Twitter on Tuesday.
Thanks to the actions carried out jointly with police, the situation at the detention centres in the three provinces "is under control," SNAI said on Wednesday.