Three men have escaped in a helicopter from a Canadian prison, prompting a manhunt involving the country’s military.
The men escaped on Saturday evening from the Orsainville Detention Centre, in the suburbs of Quebec City, after a helicopter briefly landed at the prison to pick them up.
At least two of the men were arrested as part of a 2010 drug bust, for which they were waiting to stand trial. The men are thought to have ties to the Hells Angels, according to local reports.
Authorities believe that one pilot was in the helicopter when it arrived at the prison, though the exact details of the escape are still being investigated, police said.
“Priority number one is to locate the helicopter and the three escapees that are inside that helicopter,” police spokesperson Ann Mathieu told a local news channel. “We are really working closely with the detention centre for all the information that we can possess on those individuals.”
The escapees have been identified as Yves Denis, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53 and Serge Pomerleau, 49. Police have released pictures of the three on Twitter, and warned the public not to approach the inmates.
They headed west in the helicopter, perhaps towards Montreal, said local reports.
It is the second dramatic prison escape in Quebec in nearly a year.
Prisoners escaped from a different Quebec prison in March 2013 after being hoisted away in a helicopter, which officials said was a first in the region. The two escapees were found within hours, along with two people suspected of arranging the escape.