DIBOLL, Texas -- A ceiling collapsed over a day room in a wing of the Diboll Correctional Center, in Diboll, just south of Lufkin. The 86 prisoners housed in the wing where the ceiling collapsed will all likely have to be moved to other prisons.

It happened Saturday around 11:30 a.m. in the minimum security, privately-operated prison. Damage from the outside cannot be seen, but it set off quite a scene inside, and injured 19 inmates.

Staff responded appropriately and medical responded, said Major Ken Montgomery of the Diboll Correctional Center.

The cells themselves are made of reinforced concrete in a horseshoe around the room, they re still standing. But the ceiling in the day room in the middle of the horseshoe was made of sheetrock. That collapsed, falling two stories onto the prisoners below.

Nineteen offenders have been transported to local hospitals, said Major Montgomery.

Seventeen of those prisoners were on their way back to Diboll as of Sunday. One had to be flown to a hospital in Houston, but was expected to be released Sunday as well.

Those who weren t injured were moved first into the gym.

It wouldn t be safe to keep them in there right at this point in time, said Major Montgomery.

Inmates normally housed at the damaged unit were transferred to another facility and will remain there until the damage has been repaired.

The investigation is ongoing into what caused the collapse, and for now the prison is restricting who can come and go.

Folks coming out for visiting day were turned away, some after a five-hour drive. But those KHOU 11 News spoke with were grateful their relatives were not hurt.

Major Montgomery said Diboll Correctional Center was built in 1995, and he said they haven t had any other problem like this before. He said they will be checking ceilings in all the other wings to be sure they don t have a similar problem anywhere else.

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