MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Nearly 200 inmates complaining of hunger and squalid conditions escaped from a Philippine provincial jail in an eastern province that was devastated by a monster storm in November, police said Thursday.
Authorities recaptured 148 of the 182 escapees hours after they stormed out of the Leyte provincial jail in Palo town at dawn Thursday. Police were hunting down the remaining 34, who are facing trial on charges including drug trafficking, rape and murder, said regional police chief Henry Losanes.
It was not immediately clear how the detainees escaped in such large numbers.
Losanes said the recaptured inmates told investigators they escaped because of limited food and poor conditions and the slow prosecution of their cases.
Typhoon Haiyan hit Leyte island on Nov. 8 and barreled through the central Philippines, killing more than 6,200 people.
As the typhoon was lashing the province, a large number of detainees who were worried about their families had dashed out of the city jail in Tacloban, the provincial capital, after its main steel gate was knocked down by the storm. Many of them returned after checking on their relatives.
Dozens of jailbreaks occur in the Philippines each year due to lax security and dilapidated prisons.