At least 116 people were killed after the deadliest prison riot Ecuador has ever seen erupted Tuesday. Five of the dead were beheaded, and another 80 were hurt in the melee between rival gangs linked to international drug cartels at the Litoral Penitentiary in the coastal city of Guayaquil, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ecuador's president on Wednesday declared a state of emergency across the country's prison system, which will allow the government to deploy police and soldiers inside prisons, the AP reports. President Guillermo Lasso said there's not yet a complete guarantee authorities have regained control of the prison, but that he would act with "absolute firmness" to ensure the violence doesn't spread.
Firearms, knives, and bombs were used in the violence, and some of the bodies were found in the prison's pipelines. Relatives of the inmates mourned outside, saying some of their loved ones had been dismembered. "In the history of the country, there has not been an incident similar or close to this one,” said Ledy Zúñiga, the former president of Ecuador's National Rehabilitation Council. Ecuador has long struggled with prison riots and overcrowded prisons. "It is really a tragedy, something incredible that is happening, that fights between organized criminal groups for internal power have reached these levels,” Bolívar Garzón, the newly appointed director of the country’s prison bureau, says. (Read more Ecuador stories.)