(Reuters) - An inmate at Rikers Island in New York remained on the loose on Thursday after his escape put the jail on lockdown as officers hunted for him, local news reported.

 

Naquan Hill, 24, a burglary suspect, climbed a fence and fled from a recreation yard on Wednesday when five other inmates appeared to distract two guards, the New York Times reported citing a city official.

 

Jail officers sealed the island's perimeter and deployed K-9 dogs to search for Hill. The jail was put on "red alert," the highest emergency level, the newspaper reported.

 

"Rikers Island facilities have been placed on lockdown and we are talking to anyone who may be involved," Peter Thorne, a spokesman for the Correction Department, told the paper.

 

Thorne said officers discovered that an inmate was missing at about 7:30 p.m. local time.

 

Jail officials were not immediately available to comment to Reuters.

Each jail building on the island is surrounded by walls and razor wire. The facility is in the middle of the East River, connect to the mainland by a bridge, according to the New York Times.

Rikers Island is one of the world's largest jail complexes, with 10 separate facilities housing about 10,000 inmates. It has drawn intense scrutiny in recent years over safety and security issues, including allegations of corruption, inmate abuse and unchecked violence.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in March that he would work to close Rikers permanently, following a recommendation by an independent panel.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Himani Sarkar)