Fire at Manus Island asylum seeker compound

5:05 pm on 21 June 2019

One of three compounds used to detain men on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island was set on fire today.

Video sent by refugees confined to the island by Australia shows smoke billowing from Hillside Haus in Lorengau, where about 150 asylum seekers not given refugee status by PNG are accommodated.

Sri Lankan refugee Shaminda Kanapathi said the fire, which is now out, was started by a resident of the compound in an apparent suicide attempt.

The man had sought medical help from Pacific International Hospital's (PIH) private clinic for refugees in another compound, but was angry about the level care he was provided, Mr Kanapthi said.

Hillside Haus was evacuated and the man, who had also cut himself in an act of self harm, had been taken back to the PIH clinic, Mr Kanapathi said.

The island's police chief, David Yapu, said he was out of Lorengau but had been called back into town to be briefed about the fire.

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said the man, a 31-year-old Indian asylum seeker, had suffered burns to his face and hands after setting himself and his room on fire.

Last year, the compound was damaged by another fire lit by a mentally unwell asylum seeker.

There have been numerous suicide attempts by self immolation on Manus, including several among about 500 men still detained on the island since the Australian election in May.

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