Eleven prisoners were shot dead while 33 others remained absconding following a mass jailbreak in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) second largest city, Lae.
One prisoner was recaptured by the jail authorities, local newspaper Post Courier reported on Monday.
The incident took place between 1:20pm and 1:30pm local time on Friday at Buimo prison in Lae, said PNG Correctional Services Commissioner Stephen Pokanis, reports Xinhua.
Among the 45 prisoners involved in the breakout, 10 had been convicted of a crime, and 35 were on remand awaiting trial.
Pokanis said he received reports from prison authorities that there were complaints from those on remand regarding the long delay in the hearing of their court cases.
"They had raised their concerns but this issue was explained to them by the commander," Pokanis said. "She explained to them that court hearings had been limited due to COVID-19 but they did not accept the reasons explained to them."
Instead, they gathered at the prison gate on Friday afternoon and demanded to be let out, claiming a prisoner was sick and needed medical attention, Pokanis said.
He said they then rushed in numbers to the gate when taking out the sick prisoner and attacked the duty officer with a kitchen knife before running out to the outer gate in the compound.
"Two officers standing there were outnumbered when they rushed out."
Some officials suspect the fear of COVID-19 could be behind the breakout since one warden in the jail had previously tested positive for the virus.
However, the real reasons for the breakout remained unknown and was subject to further investigation. Meanwhile, police continued to search for the 33 people on the run.