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At least 7 inmates dead, 17 injured after hours of rioting at South Carolina prison

At least seven inmates are dead and 17 other people are injured after hours-long rioting at a maximum-security prison in South Carolina, according to the state's corrections department.

Several fights broke out among inmates in three separate housing units at the Lee Correctional Institution around 7:15 p.m. Sunday, and it took authorities more than 7 1/2 hours, until 2:55 a.m. Monday, to secure the prison, officials said.

No officers or staff members were among those killed or harmed, the corrections department added.

Emergency crews from at least a half-dozen agencies responded to the "mass casualty incident," according to Lee County Fire and Rescue.

Lee County Fire tweeted "Lee County Fire/Rescue assisted With a Mass Causality Incident at Lee Correctional. Mutual Aid was received from FlorenceCounty EMS, Kershaw County EMS, Darlington County EMS, Lexington County EMS and Hartsville Rescue. Assistance was also received from Med One a private service."

Lee Correctional Institution is one of South Carolina's highest-security prisons, which means the inmates are generally tightly monitored and their movements inside the facility are limited.

Of South Carolina's nine all-male, maximum-security prisons, Lee - in Bishopville, South Carolina, about 60 miles northeast of Columbia - is the largest.

The prison houses about 1,600 male inmates, the majority of them in general housing rather than more restricted housing, according to state records.

According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the number of inmates held in state prisons has declined in recent years after peaking nearly a decade ago. There were more than 20,400 inmates held in South Carolina facilities last year, down from a peak of 24,040 inmates held in 2010, state records show.

  

Story by Amy B Wang and Mark Berman.

Wang is a general assignment reporter covering national and breaking news for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2016 after seven years with the Arizona Republic.

Berman covers national news for The Washington Post. He also anchors Post Nation, The Post's hub for news, analysis and the biggest stories happening across the country. He has been at The Post since 2007 and previously covered transportation and local news.