US & Canada

Killers escape from New York prison using power tools

David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt (R) who escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police are searching for David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt (R)

Two convicted murderers are on the run after using power tools to escape from a maximum security jail in New York.

Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, have been described as "dangerous individuals", by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

They cut through steel pipes at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and fled through a manhole.

Mr Cuomo said the prison breakout was the first escape from the facility in 150 years.

"It was an elaborate plot,'' he added.

The two escapees left a taunting post-it note for their jailers saying: "Have A Nice Day!"

The New York Post reported that they cut through the steel back walls of their cell before clambering along a 6ft catwalk to reach a series of pipes and tunnels, which they again cut their way through. The pair then climbed up through a manhole into a nearby street, "disappearing into the darkness some 20 miles south of Canada".

Image copyright AP
Image caption The escapees left a taunting note to prison authorities
Image copyright AP
Image caption Prison authorities have released a photo showing the area where two convicted murderers used power tools to cut through steel pipes at the maximum-security prison
Image copyright AP
Image caption Clinton Correctional Facility is located near the Canadian border

They placed bundles of clothing in their beds to fool guards into believing they were asleep after making their escape on Friday night. Their absence from adjoining cells was not discovered until the following morning.

Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for the first degree murder of Broome County sheriff's deputy.

Matt was given a jail term of 25 years to life for the kidnapping and beating a man to death in 1997.

Sniffer dogs

Police are trying to determine how the men acquired the tools.

"How they got them, and how they found their way through the maze of tunnels and pipes, remains a mystery," The new York Post quoted officials as saying.

Image copyright AP
Image caption New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was shown the outside of the cell that the two inmates escaped from

Mr Cuomo posted pictures of pipes and walls with chunks cut out after he was shown the inmates' escape route.

"By definition, it was an extraordinary act," he said. "These are two dangerous individuals; one was incarcerated for killing a sheriff. And they are nothing to be trifled with."

More than 200 officers are searching for the prisoners, using sniffer dogs and aerial surveillance.

Roadblocks have been set up in the area to catch the pair - who both have distinctive tattoos - according to local media.

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