The Immigration Department has confirmed an ongoing "disturbance" at the Christmas Island detention centre following the death of Iranian Kurdish refugee Fazal Chegeni, whose body was found at the base of a cliff yesterday.
Mr Chegeni's death is being investigated by Australian Federal Police.
There are reports guards have abandoned the detention centre and fences have been torn down.
Twenty-five year-old detainee Matej Cuperka told the ABC ex-convicts who had their Australian visas cancelled after serving time in jail started the riot.
"The death (of the Iranian man) is very, very suspicious," he said.
"They [the inmates who are rioting] believe Serco officers did something to him.
"I clearly heard him in the morning screaming for help, and the next thing I see they be bringing him in a body bag, and after that the whole place went into lockdown.
"About 30 people started a fight with the emergency response team in front of the medical [clinic] where officers left their stations and put the place in lockdown."
[color=#000000][size=1]PHOTO:[/size][/color] The body of Iranian Kurdish refugee Fazal Chegeni was found on Saturday. (AAP)
"They are setting fires everywhere," Mr Cuperka added.
"They started last night. They have broken into the canteen, into the property area, they started fires over there and now they starting in the compound.
"There are cars full of officers driving around the complex. They are just having a look through the window, but nobody is helping us. I want to get out of here. Get me somewhere safe please."
Another detainee, who stressed that he had not been involved in the riots, said "most of the compounds have actually been broken into, including the medical [compound]".
"The canteen, I can see from where I'm standing now, has been completely ransacked and is burning as I speak to you.
"It's a complete disaster zone.
"The compound that I'm in ... there's a lot of spot fires in there, all the cameras have been smashed up, all the kitchen has been smashed up, the offices have been breached and all the computers and everything has been broken up."
The Immigration Department said the camp's perimeter had not been breached and "the Department and its service providers are working together to resolve the situation".