June 19, 2017 / 5:15 AM / 2 months ago

Four foreign inmates break out of Bali jail using tunnel

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesian police have launched a search for four foreign inmates, who escaped from an overcrowded prison on the resort island of Bali by crawling through a narrow tunnel dug under the walls, authorities said on Monday.

"The tunnel is about 12 metres (39 ft) long and we suspect it took more than a week to build," the head of Kerobokan prison Tony Nainggolan said, adding that police believed the men were still in Bali and not far from the prison.

The four are Australian Shaun Edward Davidson, Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolov Iliev, Indian Sayed Muhammad Said and Malaysian Tee Kok King, Bali police spokesman Hengky Widjaja said.

The tunnel had a diameter of 50 x 75 cm (20 x 30 inches) and was found filled with water on Monday morning, Widjaja said.

Kerobokan houses a fairly large number of foreign inmates, given Bali's status as an international holiday destination and transport hub.

People look into a hole through which four foreign inmates escaped from Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, June 19, 2017. Antara Foto/Nyoman Budhiana via REUTERS

The four men were serving sentences for different crimes, from immigration rules violation to drug crimes, Widjaja said.

The remaining jail time for 33-year-old Australian Davidson, who was sentenced to a year in prison for breaking immigration laws, was 2 months and 15 days, while 31-year-old Indian Said had 12 years and 3 months to serve for drug offences.

Antara Foto/Nyoman Budhiana via REUTERS

The head of the prison said that 10 guards were on duty on Sunday night when the escape is believed to have taken place.

Indonesian prisons are frequently overcrowded and a war on drugs being led by the government of President Joko Widodo has triggered a spike in the number of convicted drug offenders, stretching an already overwhelmed jail system.

The capacity of Kerobakan is 323 inmates, but it currently houses more than four times that number at 1,378, according to government data.

Prison escapes are fairly common in Indonesia and authorities launched an investigation last month after around 350 inmates broke out of an overcrowded jail on Sumatra island in Riau Province.

Reporting by stringer in Bali; and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies, Joseph Radford and Michael Perry

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