More than 100 mostly barefoot inmates overpowered guards on Saturday and escaped from a lockup in central Haiti, officials said.

Judge Henry Claude Louis-Jean said the prison break occurred in Arcahaie, a coastal town about 30 miles north of Haiti's capital. One guard was reported killed and others were injured.

The escapees stole an unknown number of weapons and some exchanged gunfire with police during the chaotic breakout.

The inmates attacked after they were released from a crammed holding pen to bathe, according to provincial authorities.

Haitian prisons are notoriously overcrowded and many inmates spend years in pre-trial detention. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the escaped inmates in Arcahaie were convicted of serious crimes and how many were awaiting trial.

Police were asking jittery residents of the coastal area to follow authorities' instructions as a manhunt intensified. It wasn't clear if any of the inmates had been recaptured by Saturday evening.

The U.S. Embassy advised all American citizens to avoid the area due to the escape.