INDONESIAN authorities said four foreign inmates have escaped on Monday from Kerobokan prison on the resort island of Bali using a tunnel.
Prison head Tony Nainggolan named the four as Australian Shaun Edward Davidson, Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolov, Indian Sayed Muhammad and Malaysian Tee Kok King.
“The tunnel is about 12m (39 ft) long and we suspect it took more than a week to build,” Nainggolan said, adding police had launched a search and believed the men were still in Bali and not far from the prison.
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Nainggolan said authorities believed the escapees had planned the escape for some time. “Shaun started growing a beard and moustache, we suspect to change his appearance,” he said.
He said they were believed to have left several items near the tunnel. “We found two buckets, some towels and sandals near it (the tunnel entrance),” he said.
Currently, 1,300 prisoners are serving sentences in the overcrowded jail meant to house only 320 prisoners.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) quoted a source as saying the escaped foreigners were last seen during sahur time, when Muslims eat to prepare for their Ramadan fast.
“It is still being investigated whether they had escaped through the waste ground tunnel behind the clinic. It is filled with water,” the source said.
According to the SMH, the 31-year-old Davidson, who was jailed last August after being convicted of misusing a passport belonging to someone else, was two and a half months short of serving his one-year jail term.
The Australian media also reported Davidson had fled Australia in 2015 after he was faced with charges of possessing methamphetamine and cannabis, among other charges. He later arrived in Indonesia on a one-month tourist visa.
Indonesian authorities arrested Davidson after finding him with a passport that had been reported missing in 2013 by its owner, Michael John Bayman.
Iliev was serving a seven-year sentence for money laundering, while Sayed and Tee were both jailed for 14 and seven years respectively on drug charges.
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The four were placed in Kerobokan prison’s Block B and Sayed was said to be the last to be seen at around 6.30am.
The tower above the tunnel exit was not manned at the time due to a limited number of guards in the prison.
Prison escapes are fairly common in Indonesia. An investigation had been launched after around 350 inmates broke out of an overcrowded jail on Sumatra island in Riau Province last month.
Additional reporting by Reuters