This aerial picture shows the remains of a 10-storey hotel in Palu in Sulawesi after it collapsed following the strong earthquake and tsunami. Photo: AFP

A Filipino inmate who is serving a sentence in earthquake-stricken Sulawesi has said he took refuge at a friend’s house with the warden’s blessing after the prison wall collapsed, and will return behind bars.

The unnamed inmate, who is serving 14 years for drug possession, was located by the Philippine government after being reported missing. The quake struck Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi on September 28.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Philippine Consulate General in Manado had been able to contact the inmate and that he was safe and in a good condition.

Consul General Oscar Orcine said he was told the man could not immediately be contacted because cellular signals had been lost and his phone battery was flat. The inmate has been at Lapas Penitentiary in Palu for seven years, longer than any other serving prisoner.

There was a mass breakout from the penitentiary when its wall came down, and the inmate said he was given permission to take refuge in nearby Pitogo Village. He plans to give himself up and complete his sentence, as he does not want to incur any further penalties.