A prison riot yesterday morning at the Buri Ram prison was caused by a false rumor about an inmate having Covid-19, according to Pol Lt. Col. Prawut Wongsrinil in an interview with Associated Press.
The riot, which involved roughly 100 prisoners, resulted in eleven prisoners escaping. As of press time, ten of the prisoners have been recaptured with only 26 year old Tanyapong Sinpoon still missing. Mr. Sinpoon was doing time for charges of drug possession with intent to sell, along other offenses. Officials are searching for Mr. Sinpoon and contacting his relatives and friends.
The riot resulted in all of the 2,106 prisoners getting transferred to other prisons this morning as an investigation takes place for the individuals responsible for starting the false rumor and to determine the primary instigators behind the riot.
Dramatic pictures on social media showed burning buildings and smoke rising from the prison during the riot as local residents hunkered down in fear once reports of escaped inmates began circulating throughout the community.
Pol Lt. Col. Wongsrinil said multiple buildings were damaged during the riot, some severely. The riot began at a visiting room for relatives when several inmates overpowered guards in the area and took advantage of a recent construction project to start the riot.
The prisoners have been upset for at least a week as most visitors have been temporarily banned due to Covid-19, causing dissent and anger among many prisoners who rely on the visits for moral and emotional support. Prison officials added that relatives and friends of prisoners can still easy send money to a prisoner’s account so they may purchase goods and food at the commissary.
The entire investigation will be headed by Pol. Col. Naras Savestanan, who is the Chief of the Department of Corrections. He is setting up an independent panel to investigate the riot.