SONGKHLA: Police and soldiers were combing the border area in Sadao district in search of 18 illegal Royingha migrants who fled from a detention camp shortly before dawn on Wednesday.
Police said two sniffer dogs were helping track the escapees, who had run into the jungle bordering Malaysia.
Nineteen fled from the camp, which is about five kilometres from the border. One of the fleeing men broke his leg and was captured while hiding in a village. The other 18 were still on the run.
Sadao police chief Pongphan Saengsanga said they were believed to be hiding in a rubber plantation, but some could have already crossed the border.
They broke through the iron grill of their cell window on the third floor of the immigration detention centre, used knotted sheets to climb down to the ground and fled, about 4am on Wednesday.
Pol Col Pongphan said villagers and leaders in the area had been asked to keep an eye out for the escapees and to alert authorities if they were seen.
The escapees were arrested last year during a clampdown on human trafficking rings smuggling Rohingya from Myanmar through Thailand to Malaysia.