SYDNEY (BERNAMA) - Lock your doors and windows!
That was the warning issued by Western Australia (WA) authorities on Wednesday to residents living near the Greenough Regional Prison, 400km north of Perth, after 10 inmates escaped in a mass breakout.
It is understood the group of men were able to flee using a ladder on Tuesday (July 24) afternoon, when a serious incident drew the attention of prison guards.
"It began with a cell fire and then, there were a couple of other fires lit in the prison," Xinhua news agency quoted corrective services commissioner Tony Hassall as telling the local media.
"They (inmates) broke into some staff offices, got some equipment and used that to cause some damage. From the information I have, they got some equipment and scaled the perimeter fence."
With road blocks in place and ambulances seen entering the prison, terrified residents were immediately sent text messages and automatic phone calls to alert them of the possible dangers.
"It's a pretty disturbing situation and I just urge everyone in Greenough and Geraldton and the surrounding communities to heed the warnings that police are providing, which is to be careful, take precautions, lock your doors, and report suspicious activity," said WA Premier Mark McGowan.
Although five of the escapees were recaptured overnight, the others remain at large.
WA police inspector Geoff Desanges stressed that the remaining escapees be treated as "unpredictable" with the "potential for violence".
Designed to hold 223 inmates, a report last year by the State's Custodial Services revealed the facility was vastly over capacity with 323 prisoners.