Asylum seekers at Manus Island's detention centre have reportedly set fire to a compound, torn down fences and destroyed tents after being told they would not be resettled in Papua New Guinea.
It was also reported that some detainees had escaped.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed on Sunday night that she was aware of ''a disturbance'' on the island.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement on Monday morning also confirming a ''disturbance'', but said staff were safe and the centre was now ''calm''. The statement did not mention escaped detainees
''It is reported that Papua New Guinea police have arrested a number of transferees in relation to the incident,'' the statement said.
He said there were some injuries to detainees and some ''minor property damage to the centre''.
Mr Morrison said that reports that asylum seekers were told they would not be resettled in PNG were ''false''.
Adelaide man Murtaza Ghulam said that his brother, a Pakistani asylum seeker who was in the first group sent to the island in 2013, had phoned him amid the chaos.
''Everyone is fighting and there is a lot of people injured. He told me a lot of people are injured and hurt,'' he said.
''He just called me for five or six seconds at 10 o'clock.''
He said that asylum seekers were clashing with police and several had escaped.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said reports indicated that the riot squad was called in before a perimeter fence was breached.
''Protests have been building all day but escalated after a meeting was held to answer asylum seekers' questions about resettlement.
''Shockingly, the asylum seekers were told that they will not be resettled in PNG and if they wanted to go somewhere else, they will need to arrange that themselves.''
There are about 1300 asylum seekers on the island.