World

Inmates escape from Indonesian prison after wall collapses

Dozens of inmates escaped early Wednesday from an overcrowded prison in western Indonesia after floods caused a wall to collapse, officials said.

Torrential rain overnight inundated homes and buildings in Jambi, the capital of Jambi province on Sumatra island.

The head of the provincial Law and Human Rights Ministry, Bambang Palasara, said at least 21 prisoners had been recaptured and about 30 others were still at large. He said the prison was designed to house 350 inmates but had 1,238.

Local police chief Brig. Gen. Priyo Widyanto said more than 100 policemen, soldiers and city security officers were guarding and evacuating inmates from the prison, which was still partly flooded.

The prison's extreme overcrowding has frequently triggered unrest. Dozens of inmates escaped in March during a riot in which one block of the prison was set on fire. Some are believed to still be at large.

Jailbreaks are common in Indonesia, where overcrowding has become a problem in prisons that are struggling to cope with poor funding and an influx of people arrested in a war on drugs. Most prisoners have been convicted on drug charges.

Last month, more than 440 prisoners escaped from a penitentiary in neighboring Riau province when they were let out of their cells to take part in Friday Muslim prayers. In July 2013, about 240 prisoners, including several convicted terrorists, escaped during a deadly riot at a prison in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province.