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Two escape Greek prison by helicopter

  • Story Highlights
  • Prison break by helicopter is the second for one of the inmates
  • Reports: Two men hijacked helicopter at airport, ordered pilot to fly to prison
  • Helicopter hovered over roof, lowered rope ladders to two inmates
  • Helicopter, gagged pilot later found north of Athens
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ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- A manhunt was under way Sunday for two inmates who escaped a maximum-security prison when a helicopter plucked them from the roof, Greek officials said.

The escape played out like a Hollywood action film and was the second such flight to freedom by one of the men.

It began at about 3:30 p.m. when two men hijacked a helicopter from Athens International Airport, ordering the pilot to fly to Korydallos Prison, located in a suburb of Athens, Greek state media reported.

The helicopter hovered over the roof of a prison compound where inmates Nikos Paleokostas, 42, and Alket Riza, 34, were located, and rope ladders were unfurled. The prisoners climbed into the helicopter and escaped, Greece's Justice Ministry said.

Prison guards shot at the helicopter during the escape, witnesses told local media.

No injuries were reported.

The pilot was found gagged near the helicopter north of Athens, a state-run media report said.

The inmates and the unidentified accomplices had not been located, Greek authorities said.


"I will not tolerate this embarrassment and all necessary measures will be taken, no matter how stringent they may be," Justice Minister Nikos Dendias told CNN.

The prison break by helicopter is the second for Paleokostas, who was convicted for abducting a businessman and escaped the prison the first time in June 2006. He was recaptured several months later.

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