30 inmates escape from a prison in North Sumatra province after riot

Security forces have retaken control of an overcrowded prison in western Indonesia following a riot, and have recaptured most of the estimated 30 convicts who escaped.

At least 30 inmates escaped a prison in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province after prisoners rioted and set fire to the building, police said on Monday.

Local police chief Lt. Col. Japerson Sinaga says about 350 officers and soldiers have been deployed around Labuhan Ruku facility in North Sumatra’s Batubara district. A riot and fire broke out there Sunday afternoon, and around 30 inmates escaped. The exact number missing was still being determined.

The police chief said 23 escaped inmates have been captured. The riot erupted due to overcrowding after more prisoners were transferred to the facility, which is designed to hold 300 prisoners but houses more than 850.

About 26 female prisoners have been moved to another jail. A pregnant woman was rushed to a hospital after the riot.

Prison designed for 250 inmates

It was the second prison riot in the province since last month, when five people died after inmates ran amok and set the Tanjung Gusta prison in the city of Medan ablaze.

Sunday’s riot was sparked by inmates’ opposition to the transfer of 46 prisoners from another facility, Sinaga said.

“We have difficulty in housing inmates because the fire destroyed 75 per cent of the building,” Sinaga said.

The prison was designed to house 250 inmates but there were more than 800 prisoners at the time of the riot, said the head of correctional service department in the province, Amran Silalahi.

Indonesia’s 422 prisons hold more than 140,000 inmates, even though they were designed for about 80,000, according to the Justice Ministry.

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