About 100 police dressed in full riot gear entered the prison yesterday and arrested 31 suspected ringleaders after inmates had set fire to their cells and other parts of the compound, reports the Bangkok Post.
Large plumes of black smoke and flames were seen flickering from the prison grounds late yesterday afternoon. Several buildings were gutted including cells, a library and a kitchen. Police controlled the situation and extinguished the blazes within two hours, they said.
They said the prisoners were believed to have been making an escape attempt due to anger over the response to a COVID-19 outbreak at the prison.
Prior to the fire breaking out, Corrections Department director-general Ayuth Sintoppant said yesterday afternoon the situation had been brought under control and 14 inmates from the initial riot were taken to Krabi hospital after sustaining injuries from rubber bullets.
Around 300 male prisoners were involved in Thursday’s riot, including 20 other suspected ringleaders, Krabi prison chief Jaroon Nakkaew said. They destroyed items in their second-floor cells and threw objects and projectiles at prison warders while demanding that some 300 prisoners infected with COVID-19 be treated in hospitals instead of being kept inside the prison.
When the riot police moved in, some inmates tried to flee by climbing over a prison fence, prompting the firing of rubber bullets and subsequent injuries, officials said.
Of the 2,159 inmates, about 300 have been confirmed with COVID-19. After the infected were screened and sent to hospitals, another 1,700 were now being transferred to other facilities due to the extent of the damage the riot caused.
An investigation will be launched against inmates who destroyed prison property, said Corrections Department director-general Ayuth Sintoppant.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed agencies to confirm the cause of the riot and prevent a repeat.