Every detainee at the Christmas Island detention centre is accounted for and back inside the facility following recent breakouts, the Immigration Department says.
The surprise announcement at a community meeting on the island on Monday comes as police were cranking up a search for up to 20 detainees thought to be still at large.
Immigration Department assistant secretary for irregular maritime arrivals Fiona Andrew told the meeting that “every single person is accounted for” following the latest head count.
The news was welcomed by residents, many of whom have been concerned for their safety after the breakouts just over a week ago and subsequent riots.
An Australian Federal Police (AFP) spokesman, however, could not confirm to AAP that all detainees were accounted for or say whether the police search, involving a sniffer dog flown in from the mainland, would go ahead.
But he said the AFP would be making a statement later on Monday.
Up to 170 single male detainees roamed the island and spent time on the beach after leaving the centre across a flattened perimeter fence. Most detainees returned voluntarily to the centre but there were reports a few had stayed out to camp roughly by beaches or in the island’s jungles.
The breakouts were followed by three overnight riots at the centre in which accommodation tents and small buildings were burnt down as police fired tear gas and “bean-bag” bullets to quell rock-throwing rioters.
Since the unrest, hundreds of detainees have been flown off the island, with numbers at the Northwest Point facility now down from a peak of over 3000 to around 2000.