With ideas borrowed from the Shawshank Redemption and tips lifted from Escape from Alcatraz, two prisoners have gone on the run in the United States after successfully tunnelling out of a maximum security prison.
Using power tools smuggled into the jail, the pair managed to cut holes in the steel walls of their cells, before following a series of pipes and tunnels under the 30ft high walls of the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York State.
David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, who were both serving life sentences for vicious murders, emerged to freedom through a man-hole cover 200 yards from the prison walls and made off into the night.
Having used a trick from Escape to Alcatraz in which dummies were used to fool the guards during the two hourly checks of their cells, their escape was only uncovered when they failed to respond to a 5.30am roll call on Saturday morning.
A huge search was immediately launched to locate the pair, who were described as "extremely dangerous".
But with the Canadian border just 25 miles north of the tiny town of Dannemora, the authorities feared they may have already left the country.
The embarrassed governor at the jail, which was opened in 1865 and houses 3,000 inmates, was left trying to explain how two maximum security prisoners had managed to obtain powerful cutting equipment.
But he said questions of how they had escaped remained for later, adding: "The first order of business is to get these killers back."
Prison officials said all the facilities' tools had been accounted for, but contractors who had been working at the jail might have had equipment stolen without noticing.
New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who was given a tour of the escape route described it as a "really elaborate, sophisticated operation".
He added: "It's very important that we locate these individuals. They are dangerous and we want to make sure they don't inflict any more pain and any more harm on New Yorkers."
In scenes reminiscent of the movie classic, the Shawshank Redemption, Sweat and Matt escaped through a tiny holes cut in the walls of their adjoining cells.
The pair then descended into the bowels of the 150-year-old building, following rusty steel walkways, water and waste pipes.
Once down at ground level the pair cut a hole and clambered into a heating pipe that carries steam into the prison during the cold winter months.
Before departing for the outside world, they left a note for guards featuring a cartoon and the message, "Have a nice day".
They then made their way under the walls, emerging out of a man-hole cover in the middle of the road outside a local gym and fitness centre.
It is thought the other prisoners would have heard the men cutting the walls and pipes as they escaped, but had remained tight lipped when questioned by the guards.
The governor said: "I chatted with a couple of the inmates myself and said, 'You must be a very heavy sleeper'. They were heard, they had to be heard."
Members of the public were warned not to approach the pair who are both convicted killers.
Sweat was serving life without parole after shooting sheriff's deputy, Kevin Tarsia, 22 times in a brutal 2002 killing.
He had been at the Clinton Correctional Facility, which is the largest maximum security complex in New York State since 2003 and was described as a model prisoner.
Matt, who has a US Marine Corps insignia tattoo on his shoulder and 'Mexico Forever' across his back, was jailed for 25 years to life after being found guilty of kidnapping and beating to death 76-year-old William Rickerson in 1997.
He fled to Mexico after the murder where he was subsequently sentenced to 20-years for fatally stabbing another American to death during a robbery outside a bar.
He was extradited to the United States in 2007 to stand trial for the Rickerson killing and was transferred to Clinton the following year.
It is not the first time Matt, who is an expert forger, has escaped from jail having gone on the run from Erie County jail in 1986 while serving a sentence for burglary.
While the hunt for the two men continued, prison officials were left contemplating how long the escape had been in the planning.
Anthony J. Annucci, the acting commissioner of the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said it remained unclear how the inmates knew their way around the maze of tunnels and pipes behind the cell block.
He said: "It may have been over a period of time, it may have been trial and error. We don't know."
The huge search for the two was being led by the FBI and US Marshalls and included dog handlers with bloodhounds, roadblocks and helicopters.
Heavily armed officers were also scouring the roads leading away from Dannemora, which has a population of just 1,700.