Riots break out at Christmas Island detention centre over alleged poor living conditions

Riots have broken out at Australia's Christmas Island detention centre over alleged poor living conditions.

New Zealand men stuck there awaiting deportation told Newshub they feel like chickens cooped indoors for 22 hours a day and that they're not getting adequate medical treatment.

The centre turned into a warzone after frustrated detainees set mattresses alight and also attempted to set the facility on fire.

"Burn the place down. You burn over there, we burn over here. Look at that, look at the f***ing flame, woah! Woohoo," people are heard saying in a video.

The New Zealand men detained there say it's tantamount to torture. 

"We are locked in those chicken houses 22 hours a day," detainee Ace Salu says. 

Christmas Island is the Australian Government's holding pen for refugees and other foreigners awaiting deportation. Many don't get out for years.

"The standard of living here - it's terrible," Salu says.

"We have tried everything peacefully to ask them for all the necessities we need."

But Tuesday night's peaceful protest soon turned ugly when men took to the roof, started fires, and ripped whiteware from the walls. 

"The men aren't coping in the centre very well at all," detainee advocate Filipa Payne says. "There's a big lack of medical care, the men have really, really been suffering."

Newshub has obtained letters sent from Christmas Island detainees to advocates on the outside. In them, they claim they're receiving little medical care, including no dental or mental health services. 

One is begging for antibiotics for tooth pain, while most of them say they're suffering from depression after being taken from their families.

The Kiwis there say they've already done their time in jail and no one deserves indefinite detention like this. 

"Yous are gonna look at us and think we're just criminals, but please have a heart, show some compassion," Salu says.

Newshub asked Australian Border Force when deportations to New Zealand would resume, but they didn't respond.