updated 7/23/2009 9:32:37 PM ET 2009-07-24T01:32:37

Belgian authorities say three inmates made a dramatic escape from prison by helicopter.

Bruges prosecutor's office spokesman Marc Florens tells VRT television that an accomplice hijacked a helicopter Thursday and forced its pilot to fly into the prison yard, where the men got inside.

He says they flew to a field 12 miles from Bruges, near a highway where they stole a black Mercedes and got away. Police say they have found no trace of the car.

One of the men was identified as Ashraf Sekkaki, a 26-year-old convicted bank robber who has been described as one of the most dangerous criminals in Belgium. Sekkaki escaped from another prison in 2003.

An inmate escaped by helicopter from another Belgian prison in 2007. He was arrested two days later.

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