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Details Emerge Of Just How HECTIC WA Prison Riot Got

The last remaining West Australian prison escapee has been caught nearly 40 hours after he and nine other inmates broke out of jail during a full-scale riot.

Bradley Silvester was found by authorities in Glenfield about 8.40am on Thursday, 25km north of Greenough Regional Prison near Geraldton in WA's Mid West.

Silvester was one of 10 inmates who escaped on Tuesday afternoon, scaling the outer fence using a ladder.

An angle grinder was also taken from the prison's maintenance equipment and used to breach the inner fence.

The anarchy erupted after prison officers went to extinguish a cell fire that had been started as a diversion.

Hours of chaos followed.

Molotov cocktails were thrown, and male prisoners broke into the female unit, leaving it almost entirely uninhabitable.

Corrective Services Commissioner Tony Hassall said the riot was started by 15 ringleaders and up to 80 joined the melee.

The damage bill is expected to run into millions of dollars and the clean-up has begun.

Some prisoners suffered smoke inhalation and three officers were pepper-sprayed but there were no serious injuries, which has surprised those who have seen the scale of damage to the facility.

What exactly sparked the riot is being investigated, but the Prison Officers' Union has already blamed understaffing and overcrowding.

Mr Hassell said there was plenty of capacity in the prison, where there are currently 283 inmates and 346 beds.

Three staff were off duty when the chaos erupted but others covered them by doing overtime, he said.

"The reasons for these types of things are complex and varied ... it isn't always about resources and staffing," Mr Hassell told ABC radio.

He said prisoner populations were rising around the country, mainly in remand, and 880 beds were being added to the WA jail system, which was equivalent to a new facility.

Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan said overcrowding didn't just mean inmates had to share cells. It also meant fewer activities.

"Idleness is not a good thing in a prison," Mr Morgan told 6PR radio.

"There used to be an incentive to be good and get a single cell."

He said there was no excuse for rioting "but we need to know why they did it."

All of the escapees will be moved to Hakea remand prison in Perth, accompanied by armed guards.

Premier Mark McGowan told reporters there had been no indication of rising unrest among the Greenough inmates, but there would now be "heightened monitoring" at WA prisons.

The jail holds remand prisoners under maximum security, while other inmates are kept in medium and minimum-security sections.

AAP

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