With its beaches, bays and balmy climate, Palm Island should be a tropical paradise, but five years ago it was described by Guinness World Records as the most violent place in the world outside a combat zone. It lived up to its reputation yesterday when police reinforcements were sent to the remote island off the coast of Queensland after more than 200 Aborigines rioted over the death of a local man, burning down a police station and threatening officers with knives and petrol bombs. About 50 armed police were being flown from Townsville to Palm Island, where anger erupted following the release of a coroner's report which showed that Cameron Doomagee, 36, had four broken ribs and a punctured lung when he died in police custody last week. He had been arrested for being drunk. His injuries were 'consistent with a fall', Queensland's police minister, Judy Spence, said, prompting suspicion among Aborigines of police brutality. 'There is a riot on Palm Island. Some 200 residents have burnt down the police station,' Ms Spence said. 'I can't say it is under control at this time.' Furious locals stormed the police station and adjoining court house and set the buildings alight with a petrol bomb. A fire truck was destroyed and firefighters reportedly threatened. 'There's smoke everywhere, the police station's just about burnt to the ground, as well as the residence where the police live,' a local woman, Nicky Park, said. Other islanders said locals were threatening to drive cars onto Palm Island's airstrip and set them alight. A group of 14 police who were sent to the island last week when protests first started were besieged inside the local hospital. Palm Island has had a deeply troubled history. Named by Captain James Cook in 1770, it was used first as a leper colony and then as a dumping ground for Aborigines from more than 40 separate tribes, who were forcibly removed from the mainland and relocated in church-run missions. Its current population of 4,000 Aborigines suffer from chronic drug and alcohol abuse, 90 per cent unemployment, and an average life expectancy of about 50. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie called for Aboriginal leaders to rein in the violence and await the results of a police investigation.