Asylum Seekers On Nauru Riot Destroying Buildings, Accommodations

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125 to be charged over $55 million damage

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 22, 2013) – The ABC understands 125 asylum seekers have been charged over a riot at the Nauru detention centre which caused $60 million [US$55 million] worth of damage.

Emergency equipment and medical supplies are being flown to Nauru as hundreds of asylum seekers are without accommodation after burning the facilities down on Friday night.

Those involved have now been charged with offences including affray, riot and larceny.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke is also threatening to refuse or cancel the visas of those found to be responsible.

Nauruan officials say 80 per cent of the detention centre's buildings were destroyed and nearly all of the 540 asylum seekers housed on the island were involved in the riot.

The riot began as a peaceful protest on Friday over the slow processing of claims.

But a security guard, who does not want to be named, says protesters took over the centre, gained access to a kitchen and armed themselves with knives and steel bars.

Buildings were burned to the ground, including accommodation blocks, the health centre and the dining room.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reported that the President of Nauru has sacked his Australian Police Commissioner as a result of the riot.]

An Immigration Department spokeswoman says temporary accommodation is being set up to house the asylum seekers at the site where a new permanent detention facility is being built.

The department says the riot is not related to the Federal Government's announcement that Australia will no longer accept asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

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