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By Frank Rai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 8) - A total of 40 detainees were believed to have escaped from the Lae police cells over the weekend.

They included suspected rapists, murderers and car-jackers amongst others.

The incident was the first for the New Year and the fourth in the last four months.

It was the largest single breakout so far.

Police sources said yesterday the escapees may have been leaving the cells since last Friday afternoon.

They were not aware until one was caught jumping from the roof of the police cell building on Sunday afternoon.

Lae Metropolitan Superintendant Nema Mondiai was not available for media briefing but the sources said the detainees escaped through the cell roof by using a hard object to break through the rotten timbers and iron roof.

By yesterday afternoon police have yet to release the exact number of escapees.

Police attributed the breakout to the deteriorating conditions saying the cell was built during the colonial administration but had never been maintained since.

They also warned Lae city residents to keep a look-out for any suspected persons around their areas and report their presence immediately to the nearest police station.

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