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Indonesian police hunt inmates after mass prison break

The prisoners fled the jail in Siak district on Sumatra island early in the morning after rioting and a fire broke out at the detention centre.

Indonesian police man a barricade in the downtown area as people gather to protest to mark May Day or International Workers' Day in Jakarta on 1 May 2019. Picture: AFP

JAKARTA - More than 100 inmates escaped from an Indonesian jail on Sumatra island on Saturday, police said, in the latest breakout to hit the country’s creaking prison system.

The prisoners fled the jail in Siak district on Sumatra island early in the morning after rioting and a fire broke out at the detention centre.

Footage on local TV stations showed the facility engulfed in flames.

Authorities launched a massive manhunt and 115 prisoners had been recaptured by late morning, Riau province police chief Widodo Eko Prihastopo said.

Dozens of detainees from a prison population of more nearly 650 remained at large, he added.

"Police with assistance from the army and surrounding community are still searching for the rest," Prihastopo said.

The rioting was triggered after guards beat several inmates who were caught using methamphetamine, police said.

Three detainees suffered stab wounds and a policeman was shot during the rioting, the local health office told AFP.

Jailbreaks are common in Indonesia, where inmates are often held in unsanitary conditions at overcrowded prisons.

There was a spate of breakouts in 2013, including one where about 150 prisoners - including terror convicts - escaped from a jail.

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