Armed police were this morning in a standoff with two prisoners who camped out on the roof of Manawatu Prison overnight.
Corrections Department spokesman said the men climbed on to the roof yesterday afternoon and were yet to come down.
At a press conference outside the prison this morning, Manawatu Prison manager Peter Howe said the pair were on the roof of the exercise yard.
They climbed up at 3pm yesterday.
Corrections staff were in negotiations with the two men but Howe would not say if the prisoners were making demands.
They have access to food and water and are apparently "in good spirits", he added.
Earlier he said there was no possibility of the pair escaping.
"Ensuring the safety of both staff and prisoners is of paramount importance. For security reasons the details of the planned response to this event will not be made public at this stage."
Five police officers were positioned at the entrances to the prison, and a police liaison was inside with negotiators.
Corrections staff were also posted at the entrances with police.
Nine police staff were initially posted at two entrances to the prison after they were contacted shortly before 5pm yesterday, but that number was reduced about 10pm yesterday.
Officers have been at the prison all night, Palmerston North police senior sergeant Clifford Brown said.
Corrections had taken the lead in negotiations and police were providing assistance where they could.
The jail, in Linton, near Palmerston North, had been cordoned off.
Visitors to the prison were being turned away, with police telling them the area was in lockdown for an unknown amount of time.
Staff also turned up for work, with one saying "are they still up there?".
A Corrections spokesman said a review of prison procedures, including how the prisoners got on to the roof, would be carried out once they were down.
He would not reveal details of the prisoners, including their ages, offences, or how they got on to the roof.
While they remained on the roof the safety of prison staff and the prisoners was ''paramount''.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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