JAKARTA: Some 1,200 Indonesian convicts escaped from three different detention facilities in the devastated region of Sulawesi following an earthquake and tsunami disaster, a justice ministry official said Monday.
The mass prison break happened after the powerful tremor sparked a wall of water that devastated the small city of Palu Friday.
Ministry of Justice official Sri Puguh Utami said inmates had fled from two overcapacity facilities in Palu and another in Donggala, an area also hit by the disaster.
“I´m sure they escaped because they feared they would be affected by the earthquake. This is for sure a matter of life and death for the prisoners,” she said.
The facility in Donggala was set on fire and all 343 inmates were now on the run, Utami said.
Most of the convicts were jailed for corruption and narcotics offences, she said.
Five people convicted of terror-related crimes had been moved from the prison just days before the disaster.