New York authorities have offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of two convicted murderers who used power tools to break out of a maximum security prison.

The pair may have had help, and they left a taunting note for their jailers to "Have a nice day," authorities said on Sunday.

More than 200 local, state and federal law enforcement officials set up roadblocks, took to the air and went door-to-door in their search for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, who went missing early on Saturday morning from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, about 30km south of the Canadian border.

Governor Andrew Cuomo described the reward of $50,000 per prisoner as extraordinary.

"These are dangerous individuals," he said during a telephone news conference. "They are killers. They are murderers."

"This is a crisis situation for the state," he added. "They're capable of committing grave crimes again."


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Authorities have notified law enforcement in Canada and Mexico about the fugitives.

"We are leaving no stone unturned. They could be literally anywhere," New York State Police Major Charles Guess told a news conference.

"We presume that they may have had access to a vehicle as well as they may have had assistance in their escape effort."

The two men in adjoining cells drilled holes in walls to break out of them. They then went through a series of catwalks and tunnels, breaking through steel to clear prison grounds and escaping through a manhole on a nearby street, officials said.

They used clothing to make it look like they were in their beds and left a yellow note with a smiley face and the words "have a nice day" on steam pipe. Authorities have found some of the simple instruments they used but not the power tools.

Authorities do not know how they acquired the tools but were checking to see if they came from contractors working for the prison.

It was the first jail break from the facility in 150 years.

Matt is serving 25 years to life for kidnapping, murdering and dismembering a man.

Sweat is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing a sheriff's deputy. Police said he shot the deputy nearly two dozen times.

Source: Agencies