A riot has broken out at the Christmas Island detention centre, following the death of a detainee who escaped from the North West Point facility over the weekend.

Iranian Kurdish man Fazel Chegeni, who is in his early 30s, was found at the bottom of island cliffs away from the centre on Nov. 8 by search and rescue teams. According to the Department of Immigration, rioting within the centre began soon after.

A man being held at the detention centre says detainees have set fire to some areas of the centre. Matej Cuperka, a 25-year-old detainee, told the ABC ex-convicts who had their Australian visas cancelled after serving time in jail had started the riot.

He said the inmates believe Serco officers had done something to Fazel. “I clearly heard him in the morning screaming for help, and the next thing I see they be bringing him in a body bag, and after that the whole place went into lockdown,” he said.

Refugee Action Coalition Spokesman Ian Rintoul said he had been in contact with detainees throughout the night.

“Fences and walls have been knocked down and fires have been started in some areas of the centre,” he told the SMH.

Another New Zealand detainee, who did not wish to be named, told Auckland’s TVNZ the centre was in chaos.

“The canteen’s been smashed to pieces, there’s no security, there’s no emergency response team, there’s no border patrol, there’s no guards, there’s no nothing,” he said.

The immigration department said there were no injuries reported and that “the department and its service providers are working together to resolve the situation.” It was advised on Saturday (Nov. 7) of Chegeni’s escape from the detention centre. The matter was then referred to the Australian Federal Police, who immediately commenced a search and rescue operation.

In a press statement, Rintoul said that detainees were told at a meeting late Sunday afternoon that Fazel’s body was found ‘in the jungle’ and that he had been dead ‘for some time’.

Chegeni’s death is being investigated by the AFP, and a report is being prepared for the coroner.

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