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1962: Three escape from Alcatraz
Three prisoners have made their way out of California's Alcatraz prison using spoons and a homemade raft.

Frank Lee Morris and two brothers, Clarence and John Anglin, all convicted of bank robbery, escaped last night from the notorious island prison in San Francisco Bay renowned for its high level of security.

The acting warden said they put dummy heads - made of a mixture of soap, toilet paper and real hair - in their beds to fool prison officers making night-time inspections.

They then cut through the back of their cells with sharpened spoons, crawled out and onto the roof through a ventilation duct, climbed down a pipe to the ground then made their way to the shore of the island.

Prison officials said they used a makeshift raft of driftwood and raincoats sewn together to make pontoons in order to float away from Alcatraz, also known as The Rock.

Famous inmates

At least 100 armed troops have joined the military police in their hunt for the three convicts who are wearing blue prison uniform. Police have warned members of the public not to approach the men.

Alcatraz Island is only a mile from the mainland. But the waters of San Francisco Bay are treacherous and very cold and should the escapees fall in, there is little chance of survival.

Alcatraz, which houses around 270 hardened criminals, is famous for its high level of security thanks to the structure of the buildings, their isolation from the mainland and the frequent head counts - 12 a day.

The prison boasts gangster Al Capone, George 'Machine Gun' Kelly and murderer and bird expert Robert Stroud among its most infamous inmates.

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Alcatraz prison
America's most notorious prison is famed for its high level of security

In Context
Frank Lee Morris, Clarence and John Anglin were never recaptured and opinion is divided as to whether they succeeded in their escape, were drowned or eaten by sharks.

The FBI spent years investigating the case and finally concluded the men had failed.

The film Escape from Alcatraz, starring Clint Eastwood was based on their story.

On 21 March 1963 after 13 escape attempts, Alcatraz was closed by the Kennedy administration after it was deemed too expensive to run.

Alcatraz became a home for Native Americans from 1969 to 1971. It has been a part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area and a museum since 1972.

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