Five inmates were killed in a police chase after nearly 70 prisoners escaped today at a mass prison in Lebanon.
According to Beirut police, inmates smashed their cell doors and attacked the prison guards before they escaped.
Five of the escaped prisoners then died when a car they stole crashed into a tree during a subsequent police chase. Another person was taken to the hospital.
Families and relatives of fugitive prisoners who had escaped gathered outside to inquire about their fate after it was learned that some had been recaptured while others had died in the process.
Lebanese police were on guard at the Baabda Courthouse Detention Center when nearly 70 inmates escaped from a prison today
Relatives of the prisoners gathered outside the prison in Beirut to find out the fate of their loved ones
Almost 70 inmates escaped from prison in the mass prison this morning, but five prisoners were killed in a police chase. Pictured: Families waiting to hear from their family members
The mass break with 69 prisoners took place in a prison in Baabda, a suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut.
According to the police, 15 inmates have so far been arrested again and four of the escaped prisoners vomit.
Security forces cordoned off the area around the prison and conducted a manhunt for the remaining prisoners.
"A manhunt is underway … to arrest the remaining fugitive prisoners," police said in a statement.
The Beirut police confirmed that 15 inmates had been arrested again and four had vomited. Pictured: Police are escorting a prisoner who fled an internment camp
Relatives of prisoners tried to speak to Lebanese police officers standing outside the prison to see what had happened to members of their families
Security forces cordoned off the area around the prison and conducted a manhunt for the remaining prisoners
Five of those who escaped died when the car they stole on their way crashed into a tree
Local authorities asked residents to be on alert and large numbers of security guards raided the area.
Prosecutor Ghada Aoun has ordered an immediate investigation into the outbreak.
She said she was not ruling out the possibility of "collusion between the inmates and security guards charged with protecting their cells."
Judge Fadi Akiki, a government official at the military court, held a meeting with security officials after inspecting the detention center and the location of the car accident.
Relatives of the inmates gathered in front of the detention center in the Baabda Palace of Justice, where some were waiting for the trial.
Authorities are now calling on people in the area to be on alert and large numbers of security guards have been deployed to search for the remaining inmates
Some families are still waiting to hear if their loved ones were involved in the crash, were arrested again, or are still on the run
Prosecutor Ghada Aoun has opened an investigation into the outbreak
Prosecutor Aoun said she was not ruling out the possibility of "collusion between inmates and security guards charged with protecting their cells."
Some asked about the fate of their relatives, while others took their sons back into custody, according to an AFP photographer.
These include Joumana Berjawi, whose 22-year-old son escaped after six months in prison for attempted murder – a charge she denies.
"My son was among the refugees, but I brought him back and handed him over to the state," Berjawi told AFP.
The jailbreak comes as detainees across Lebanon called on parliament to pass a draft general amnesty law aimed at freeing thousands of them from coronavirus-affected prisons.
Judge Fadi Akiki, a government official at the military court, held a meeting with security officials after inspecting the detention center and the location of the car accident
Some of the people gathered outside were keen to find out the fate of their families, while others were sending their sons back to prison
The jailbreak comes as detainees across Lebanon called on parliament to pass a draft general amnesty law aimed at freeing thousands of them from coronavirus-affected prisons. Pictured: Families are waiting to hear from their relatives
Lebanon has recorded over 113,000 Covid-19 cases, including 884 deaths, since the outbreak began in February.
The country is currently on lockdown until the end of the month to contain a surge in infections.
In April, Amnesty International announced riots had broken out in Lebanese prisons and families had organized sit-down protests demanding the release of prisoners over concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in overcrowded prisons.
While the Lebanese government has taken various measures, including some releases, the authorities should give priority to the release of prisoners who have served their sentences and expedite a review of detainees on remand.