Seven inmates dead, 17 hurt after South Carolina prison incident

April 16 (Reuters) - Seven prison inmates were killed and 17 others were injured in an hours-long series of fights between inmates armed with improvised weapons at a prison in South Carolina, state officials said on Monday.

The Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina, about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of the state capital of Columbia, was secured at 2:55 a.m. EDT (0655 GMT), the state Corrections Department said on Twitter. The violence began at around 7:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT) on Sunday night, spilling out over three housing units.

All seven deaths were the result of stabbing injuries, said Lee County Coroner Larry Logan.

"In prison, it's not like you have guns, or people are going to get run over," Longan said in a phone interview.

All prison staff and law enforcement officers were safe and accounted for, officials said on Twitter. The prison has 1,583 inmates, according to its website.

State data show there were 37 serious inmate assaults on prison employees last year, up from 21 in 2015.

It was one of the deadliest U.S. prison incidents in years. In 1993, nine inmates and one corrections officer died at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, according to local media.

One inmate died and eight were wounded in a September 2017 riot at a state penitentiary in San Luis Obispo, California. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Rich McKay in Atlanta Writing by Scott Malone Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas)

12 PHOTOS
High profile jail breaks, prison escapes
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High profile jail breaks, prison escapes

Prison inmates Richard Matt, 48, (L) and David Sweat, 35, are seen in a combination of enhanced pictures released by the New York State police June 17, 2015, showing how they might look after escaping 12 days ago. After more than 1,200 tips from the public, authorities on Wednesday expanded a manhunt for two killers whose brazen escape from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, on June 6.

(REUTERS/New York State Police/Handout)

Mexico's Attorney General Arely Gomez shows a picture of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman during a press conference held at the Secretaria de Gobernacion in Mexico City, on July 13, 2015. Guzman managed to escape from his cell despite a monitoring bracelet and 24-hour security camera surveillance, and likely was helped by prison officials, authorities said Monday.

(YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Lionel Clah, right, and Joseph Cruz escaped while being transported to a New Mexico prison.

 (Photo via New Mexico Department of Corrections)

Mug shots of three prisoners that made a rare escape from Alcatraz Island. From left to right: Clarence Anglin, John William Anglin, and Frank Lee.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

John Dillinger, desperado, Public Enemy No. 1, as he looked while being taken from Tucson, Arizona to Crown Point, Indiana, where he later escaped.

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Convicted Chardon High School gunman TJ Lane was one of three inamtes who escaped the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Ohio in 2014. He was quickly captured.

(REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

Three weeks after seven armed convicts escaped from a Texas prison, authorities continued to scour the state January 4, 2001, for the gang suspected of shooting a policeman 11 times in a Christmas Eve robbery near Dallas. Local and state police and federal agents have offered a reward of $100,000 per escapee. The convicts are top row L-R; Michael Anthony Rodriguez, George Rivas, Joseph C. Garcia and Larry Jame Harper. Bottom row, L-R; Randy Ethan Halprin, Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr and Donald Keith Newbury. 

(Handout/Reuters)
Inmates Jonathan Tieu, 20, Hossein Nayeri, 37, and Bac Duong, 43, (L to R) are seen in an undated combination photo released by the Orange County, California, Sheriff's Department. The three inmates, an accused murderer and two other California prisoners, were still at large on Sunday after breaking out of the Orange County jail as a massive manhunt for the trio entered its third day, authorities said. REUTERS/Orange County Sheriff's Department/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Rafael McCloud, 34, is shown in this Warren County Sheriff's Department handout photo. McCloud sparked a manhunt in Mississippi on March 2, 2015 after he swiped a jail employee's clothes, radio and keys and escaped from a county detention facility out a side door, police said. REUTERS/Warren County Sherriff's Department
Shane Anthony Vernon, 27, a prisoner who escaped from Coosa County jail for the second time in three weeks on November 19, 2017, is shown in this booking photo provided November 22, 2017. Coosa County Jail/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Frank Freshwaters, 79, of Akron, Ohio, United States, is seen in 1959 and 2015 photos released by the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Florida. Freshwaters was arrested in Melbourne, Florida, on Monday after spending 56 years on the run. Freshwaters, who had been living under the name William Harold Cox, escaped from an Ohio prison in 1959 while serving a sentence related to a manslaughter conviction, authorities said. REUTERS/Brevard County Sheriff's Office/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Mississippi Department of Corrections photo of Sam Gene Harris, a fugitive arrested in Utah 34 years after he escaped. Harris, who escaped from a minimum security prison in Mississippi 35 years ago, was captured in Utah and returned to Mississippi to serve out the remainder of his sentence, officials said on February 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mississippi Department of Corrections/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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