MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) – Four inmates jailed for murder and burglary have escaped from a prison in the Irkutsk Region, East Siberia, by digging a tunnel, local investigators said on Saturday.
The prisoners escaped from an industrial area of a colony in the village of Markovo, where they worked as carpenters, by digging a 20-meter-long tunnel, a statement said.
The prison authorities noticed that the inmates were missing during a morning headcount on Saturday. The prison chief has been suspended for alleged negligence, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said.
More than 2,500 police officers are involved in a search operation. Police have blocked the roads leading to Irkutsk. Police said earlier the inmates could be hiding in taiga. The escape has caused panic among the locals, media reports said.
Earlier this month, a murder suspect with alleged mafia connections, Oleg Topalov, escaped from the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention facility by making a hole in the ceiling and climbing through an air vent. He was later detained by police in a park.