The death toll from the prison riot and escape attempt earlier this week at the penitentiary in Gomez Palacio, a city in the northern Mexican state of Durango, has risen to 24, officials said.

A total of 15 inmates and nine guards died in the incident, which occurred on Tuesday, Durango Public Safety Secretary Jesus Antonio Rosso said.

Four other inmates and two guards are listed in serious condition, Rosso said, adding that the death toll could rise.

Autopsies found that only two of the guards were shot dead, with the rest being killed with "blunt objects," Rosso said.

The more than 500 inmates at the Gomez Palacio prison have been transferred to other facilities so modifications can be made to the penitentiary, where 78 inmates have died in the past three years, Rosso said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto ordered Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong earlier this week to "take measures to ensure control of the penitentiary system so that its policies will allow for the return to society of inmates."

Mexico's 419 penitentiaries have the capacity to hold 188,167 inmates, but they are currently housing 237,580 prisoners. EFE