?Malaysian authorities launched a large scale manhunt yesterday (April 5) for more than 100 illegal immigrants who fled a detention camp after burning down an accommodation block.
District police chief Saiful Azly said a group of 200 policemen, immigration officials and paramilitary volunteers were combing central Negri Sembilan state following the breakout from the Lenggeng immigration depot.
"Most of the detainees who escaped are from Myanmar, others include Iranians and one detainee from Nigeria," he said.
"Twenty-five of them have been re-arrested and have been brought back to the detention camp with a large scale manhunt underway to recapture the rest," Saiful added.
The home ministry’s top official in charge of detention depots, Mohamed Asri Yusof, said the breakout took place at about 9.45 am" when there was rioting and the detainees burnt down Block A."
He said the government has set up a committee to look into the incident.
Located 40 minutes from the town of Seremban, the detention camp is the size of six football fields and consists of four accommodation blocks and a watchtower encircled by a six-metre zinc fence topped with concertina wire.
Home ministry officials admitted last August to poor standards at detention centres for illegal immigrants and trafficking victims, after a report labelled the facilities "ticking time bombs".
Officials had said Malaysia’s 13 depots were insecure and that the detainee population of 7,000 - of which more than half were "hardcore criminals" - found it easy to escape.
In March last year 16 illegal immigrants, including 12 Afghans, escaped after cutting their way out of a detention centre at Malaysia’s main international airport.
The home ministry’s top civil servant, Mahmood Adam, has said it is developing a plan to tackle the situation.
He said anti-climbing fences and CCTV cameras would be installed at detention centres and that a report would be put to cabinet soon on further upgrading and security measures required.
With one of Asia’s largest populations of foreign labourers, Malaysia relies on its 1.8 million immigrants to clean homes, care for children and work in plantations and factories.
Immigration activists say Malaysia is often used as a staging post for trafficking gangs moving people from Afghanistan and Myanmar to Indonesia and Australia.