Two convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum-security New York prison may be fleeing towards the neighbouring state of Vermont, officials say.
Police said it was one of 500 leads they were pursuing on the fifth day of the manhunt for David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin told reporters: “We have information that suggests they (the convicts) thought New York would be hot and Vermont might be cool in terms of law enforcement.”
He was joined by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who warned the people of Vermont to take the information seriously.
“I am confident we will find them,” said Mr Cuomo. “The only question is when.”
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told reporters: “We won’t stop until we have these convicts captured.”
Supt D’Amico said they would search behind every rock, tree and structure for the fugitives.
The pair used power tools to bust out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, sometime on Friday night.
Officials said at Wednesday’s news conference that house-to-house searches were ongoing in Dannemora.
More than 450 law enforcement officials continue to scour round Willsboro, 30 miles south of the prison.
A witness reported seeing two suspicious-looking strangers near the small town, which is next to the Vermont border.
The escape has drawn comparisons to the 1994 prison break movie The Shawshank Redemption.
Author Stephen King, on whose novella the hit film was based, says he can see the similarities.
“Okay, the Dannemora break was a bit like Shawshank,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
“Sometimes life imitates art, that’s all. Except these are bad, bad boys.”
The duo escaped from the facility by cutting through steel walls, squeezing through a steam pipe and popping out of a manhole.
A female employee who worked with Sweat and Matt tailoring clothes at the prison has been questioned as a possible accomplice.
Supt D’Amico told Wednesday’s news conference the woman befriended “the inmates and may have had some role in assisting them”.
The employee, Joyce Mitchell, reportedly went to hospital complaining of a panic attack on the day the inmates were found missing.
Matt and Sweat had managed to ingratiate themselves with the prison authorities before their escape.
They had gained a place on the “honour block”, where looser rules allowed them to wear clothing other than their prison uniforms.
The fugitives’ green prison uniforms were found in a pipe the men had used to climb out of the manhole, according to media reports.
Matt – who has a history of escape attempts from other lockups – was jailed for the 1997 torture, murder and dismemberment of his boss.
A criminal who testified against him says he now fears for his life.
Sweat was serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff’s deputy.