California inmates rappel from jail in escape, two at large
US authorities are hunting for three California prisoners, including a man charged with murder, who staged a brazen jailbreak that reportedly involved rappelling from the roof of a maximum-security facility using bed sheets (AFP Photo/John Moore)

Four California inmates cut through the bars of a second-story jail window and rappelled down the building's side in an overnight escape bid, authorities said on Thursday.

Two of the inmates who broke out of the Santa Clara County jail in San Jose were caught immediately, but the others remain at large, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Officials said a massive search that includes dogs and a helicopter was under way for inmates Rogelio Chavez, 33, and Laron Campbell, 26. The two were jailed on charges of false imprisonment and firearms violations, among other counts.

The inmates cut through the window's bars on Wednesday night. The statement did not say how the prisoners got their hands on tools to remove the bars. Authorities said no cutting tools were found in the cell after the escape.

The Sheriff's department said the inmates are believed to have escaped from an established containment zone around the jail, citing surveillance footage that captured the fleeing men.

KNTV, an NBC affiliate, quoted a sheriff's spokesman as saying they escaped using clothing to climb down the side of the building. A deputy on patrol noticed the clothing hanging from the window, it said.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)