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Riots Inside Christmas Island Detention Centre After Man Dies Trying To Escape

A canteen has reportedly burned down following the death of an Iranian Kurdish man.

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Riots have broken out at the Christmas Island detention centre following the death of an Iranian Kurdish refugee.

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BuzzFeed News spoke to a detainee from New Zealand inside the Christmas Island detention centre.

"Everything's on fire," he said.

He said he hasn't seen any guards since they left the centre at 9pm last night.

According to to him, the riot started on Sunday night, with people angry about the death of the escaped detainee.

"They ripped off the walls, broke into the canteen and stole cigarettes."

"They've broken into the offices, and they've got the fire extinguishers and they're smashing all the cameras in this place."

He says around 100-150 detainees are involved in the riot.

"I'm just laying low. I'm not afraid right now but I'm afraid of what's going to happen - what will be the repercussions from this?" he said. "I was meant to have an appointment with immigration today, that's not going to happen now."

Detainees believe the escaped man injured himself climbing over the fence of the detention centre.

"People heard someone screaming at the fence yesterday morning and three hours after that they carried this guy off in handcuffs, he was pretty battered," the New Zealander told BuzzFeed News.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has confirmed there is a "disturbance" on the island, saying it is working with service providers to restore calm.

No injuries have been reported, but Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul told AAP that walls had been knocked down and fires started in some areas.

The disturbance comes after the body of a detainee was found after he escaped the immigration detention facility on Saturday morning. It is not yet known how the man died.

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The department of immigration and border protection said detention centre staff told them about the escape on Saturday morning.

"The matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police who commenced a search and discovered a deceased person today (November 8)," reads a media release published on the department's website.

"[The centre] remains calm and support services are available to all detainees and staff."

The immigration department has only identified the man as an "illegal maritime arrival" but advocacy group Refugee Action Coalition believes he is an Iranian Kurdish asylum seeker in his early 30s called Fazel Chegeni.

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According to Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul, detainees reported the missing man on Friday, and police brought his body back to the detention centre on Sunday morning.

He says Chegeni arrived in Australia in 2011, and was granted refugee status two and a half years ago. He went to prison after his involvement in a fight at the detention centre, and was moved back into detention when he was released from prison.

He had been on Christmas Island for around ten weeks.

"Like so many others, Fazel was suffering the effects of long-term, arbitrary detention," Ian Rintoul said.

"He had told other detainees that he could no longer stand being in detention and just wanted 'to go outside'.

"The delay in processing and releasing him is inexcusable. He is a victim of the punitive detention regime that cares nothing for the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees," he said.

The department said the matter will now be subject to a coronial inquiry, and will not be providing any further comment.

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at alexandra.lee@buzzfeed.com.

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