SYDNEY, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Police are still searching for over 60 inmates who escaped from Bei-ubi prison in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands.

Although the breakout occurred on Friday, the Highlands Western Division Commander Kaiglo Ambane told The National newspaper that police were only made aware on Monday, conceding the figure could be as high as 80.

Ambane had previously voiced his concerns about overcrowding in the prison system.

"The jail has capacity to hold 150 people at any time, but was forced to accommodate 210 prisoners last week just before the breakout," he said.

"The jail was facing an acute shortage of CS officers, with 30 of the 40 officers working,"

An issue was ordered by Ambane last week to police from Hela and the Southern Highlands, not to make any new arrests because the Bei-ubi prison could not take anymore prisoners.

Last year 11 people were shot dead when 70 escaped from Buimo prison, 300 km north of Port Moresby, the same facility also experienced another incident where people were believed to have escaped last week.

At Wewak prison, on the country's north coast a breakout occurred one month ago with the exact number of escapees not known.

Ambane fears the issues facing the Prison system may get worse after the nation's gun amnesty window expires on the February 28.