STORY: Family members waiting outside the prison for information were visibly upset and angered, accusing law enforcement of being corrupt.
The government of conservative President Guillermo Lasso attributes prison violence to fights between gangs over control of territory and drug trafficking routes.
Ecuadorean Interior Minister, Patricio Carrillo, told a news briefing that the final death toll could be higher as staff were still conducting a cell-by-cell inspection. "What is certain is that thirteen bodies have been found and transferred to the forensic medicine department," he said.
The police and the armed forces were retaking control of the penitentiary, the SNAI prisons agency said on Twitter. It earlier called the incident a "dispute."
Last year, 316 prisoners died during riots in various prisons across Ecuador. The country's prisons house about 33,900 people and are 12.5% beyond maximum capacity, according to official figures.