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Inmates Set Fiji Prison Afire, 114 Escape

September 22, 1987|United Press International

SUVA, Fiji — Soldiers searched the island of Fiji today for more than 100 dangerous prisoners who escaped from a burning prison in the largest breakout in the nation's history, officials said.

In a nationwide broadcast, Col. Sitiveni Rabuka, commander of Fiji's security forces, told the 64,000 people of Suva and the surrounding areas to keep indoors for their security and safety.

The Fiji Sun newspaper said that 114 prisoners escaped from the prison at Naboro, nine miles west of Suva, and that none of the prisoners had immediately been recaptured.

Rabuka said the escaped prisoners were armed with spades, garden forks and knives and said they were extremely dangerous.

Officials said convicts set fire to the medium-security section of the prison and the ensuing blaze completely razed the building. They said the prisoners made their escape after firefighters left the prison's gates open while trying to fight the inferno.

The Naboro prison complex housing maximum, medium and rehabilitation inmates is the largest in the country.

Soldiers from the Royal Fiji Military Forces and the Fiji police force have been deployed in the area to help prison officials recapture the escapees, sources said.

Fiji, an island of 7,056 square miles, is about 1,400 miles north of New Zealand.

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