Nineteen asylum seekers have been treated for injuries and eight arrested after a riot at the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed reports that about 35 asylum seekers broke down a fence around the facility before clashing with security personnel on Sunday.
Fences were broken down inside the compound that houses 1300 transferees, while bunk beds were broken up and pieces were thrown at camp security during the hectic hour-long stand-off.
Mr Morrison said officials were meeting with detainees to answer questions posed in early February.
The officials left when the transferees started chanting, the minister said.
"The centre remained calm but tense until approximately 1815 local time when about 35 transferees from Oscar compound absconded from the centre," he said.
They were quickly found and returned, and the camp was secured by 7.30pm.
"Minor incidents continued into the evening and tensions remained, all compounds were calm by 11pm," Mr Morrison said.
Of the 19 asylum seekers who received medical attention at the facility following the riot, five were still under medical care, he said.
Mr Morrison said batons were not used to contain the asylum seekers, however security personnel wore personal protection gear.
During the fray, two lamp poles inside the perimeter were knocked down, internal and external fences knocked over and glass safety panels smashed.
Earlier, local journalist Nick Solomon said the asylum seekers who breached the rear fence of the facility got into a fight with security personnel and police outside the centre.
"They have injuries from fighting with the guards," Mr Solomon said.
"They broke down the back fence on the beach side, ran around and had a fight with security."
Essential immigration staff were still inside the centre and the perimeter was being patrolled by PNG police.
Mr Morrison said the Royal PNG Constabulary was mainly engaged in controlling locals outside the centre.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the only way to avoid disturbances at detention centres was to ensure asylum seekers didn't try to come to Australia by boat.
"If you come to Australia illegally by boat this is, I'm afraid, what happens to you. As far as this government is concerned the way is shut," he told ABC radio.
Boat arrivals are being transferred to Manus or another detention centre on Nauru and have no prospect of being settled in Australia under current government rules.
Manus MP Ron Knight said he had asked PNG government officials for a briefing on contingency plans for violent protests at the centre.
"I have asked if they have a plan and no one came back to me," Mr Knight told AAP.
Australia's opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the government should make information publicly available as it came to light.
"This is now the second serious incident which has occurred at the Manus Island detention facility since the Abbott government came to power," Mr Marles told reporters in Melbourne.
"We need to hear from the government what steps they are going to take to ensure that this kind of incident never happens again."
Mr Marles said the Manus Island detention facility is fundamental to Australia's asylum-seeker policy, having had the biggest impact on stemming the flow of boats than any other measure.
He said Australians need confidence it is being run properly.