Prisoners have lit fires at Australia’s Christmas Island detention centre in a “major disruption” that is yet to be concluded, say government officials.
The immigration section supported in a statement that guards have been withdrawn for “safety reasons”.
Educational medical and athletic facilities are damaged.
The statement denied a “large-scale riot” was taking place but said the scenario at the center for refugees and asylum seekers was “tense”.
The Christmas Island center also houses New Zealanders facing deportation from Australia.
Inmate’s departure ‘ignited riot’
The unrest started after a small grouping of Iranian offenders began protesting concerning the death of an Iranian Kurd, Fazel Chegeni, who had escaped in the facility on Saturday, said the statement.
Mr Chegeni’s body was found at the bottom of a cliff on Sunday, it said. A report on his passing had been prepared for the coroner.
It said a number of little fires was lit inside the complex.
“A group of detainees, believed to be non-citizens whose visas have been cancelled under compulsory cancellation provisions, continue to agitate and result in harm to the facility,” it added.
Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition group, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Chegeni was “enduring the consequences of long-term arbitrary detention”.
“He’d told other detainees which he could no more stand being in detention and just needed ‘to go outside’,” he said.
‘ Fires everywhere ‘
ABC News earlier quoted a 25-year-old detainee, Matej Cuperka, who said he feared for his security.
“They are beginning fires everywhere … they’ve broken to the canteen, into the home place,” Mr Cuperka was quoted as saying.
“There are cars packed with policemen driving across the complex.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the Christmas Island centre was “in collapse”.
“I ‘ve talked with people that are locked right up in the centre plus they say that there is widespread unrest and fires throughout the facility,” Ms Hanson-Young said.
Ms Hanson-Young said she was concerned that asylum seekers had been locked up with other detainees, placing them “at risk”.