Bishopville - Seven South Carolina prison inmates were stabbed to death and 17 others injured in an eight-hour-long riot that stands as the deadliest in the United States since 1993, according to state officials and a prison safety expert.
The State newspaper showed video it said was taken by inmates with smuggled phones that depicted trails of blood and dead bodies in the prison. That was almost double the rate from the two years before, the newspaper reported.
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"How else are you going to die in prison?"
Forty-four guards were on duty at the 1583-inmate prison when violence erupted Sunday evening, Stirling said.
The fighting was described as "multiple inmate-on-inmate altercations".
The state Department of Corrections also identified the inmates as Raymond Angelo Scott, Michael Milledge, Damonte Marquez Rivera, Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins, Joshua Svwin Jenkins, Corey Scott, and Cornelius Quantral McClary.
The Department of Corrections said that all corrections and law enforcement officers are safe and that the fights were over by 3 a.m. Monday.
The youngest was 28 years old, while the oldest was 44.
Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison for men, has been the site of several other violent and deadly outbreaks this past year, CNN affiliate WACH reported.
The coroner said when he arrived it was a chaotic scene of fighting everywhere.
Meanwhile, inmate deaths are on the rise in South Carolina-they actually more than doubled between 2016 and 2017.
The 25-year-old prison houses around 1,500 male inmates, who are among South Carolina's most violent criminals.
According to S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) director Bryan Stirling, fights broke out in three dorms, beginning with one at 7:15 p.m., then the other two an hour and 15 minutes later.
Gov. Henry McMaster commended Stirling's response and said he was outraged the state can't jam cellphone signals in prisons.