Prison cell
Two prison employees of Pasquotank Correctional Institute in Elizabeth City, North Carolina were killed in a mass prison break attempt on Thursday, 12 October afternoon - File photoNational Park Service

At least two employees of a North Carolina prison were killed when the sewing plant at the facility was set on fire as part of a mass prison break attempt on Thursday (12 October). Nearly 10 others were wounded in the incident, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said later that evening.

The Pasquotank Correctional Institute in Elizabeth City currently houses 729 inmates and none of them managed to escape in the attempt, the department added, noting that the situation was under control.

A dispatcher at the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office told American Broadcasting Corporation that the incident took place in the afternoon at around 3.30pm local time (8.30pm BST). "We will work closely with investigators to learn the circumstances of today's incident and bring to justice those responsible," W David Guice, chief deputy secretary of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice reportedly said.

Following the mass prison break attempt, three local public schools in the vicinity were placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools said on Facebook. The post added that schoolchildren heading home on school buses were brought back to their schools amid fears of inmates' presence in the area.

The lockdown was later lifted after securing the prison, ABC News reported.

The people injured in the prison incident were taken to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia from where three were later moved to the Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, Sentara Healthcare spokesperson Peter J Sengenberger said in a statement. Some of the injured were in a serious condition, Keith Acree, North Carolina Department of Public Safety spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper applauded the prison employees for doing "a difficult and demanding job" that is critical to prison safety. "We're grateful to these fallen prison employees for their service, and we offer our condolences to their families, friends, coworkers and community on this tragic loss," he said in a statement.