As the manhunt for two convicted killers who broke out of a northern New York state maximum security prison over the weekend continues, police on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are on high alert.

David Sweat and Richard Matt made a daring escape Saturday from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemore, N.Y. It’s just over 30 kilometres from Quebec's border.

The manhunt stretched into a third day Monday, with police questioning drivers and searching vehicles at checkpoints near the 3,000-inmate prison.

Local residents, many shocked that prisoners managed to escape, have been told the fugitives are desperate and dangerous.

"(The) prison's been here for 150 years and (a prison break) has never happened," one new resident told CTV News. "Of course, the day I move in it happens."

Communities lining both sides of the border are on high alert, as authorities scoured wooded areas, went door-to-door and checked classrooms for the two killers.

The mayor of Lacolle, Que., which is roughly 70 km from the prison, attempted to reassure his residents in the face of rising fears.

"We've got the RCMP protecting our territory (and) we also have the (Surete de Quebec)," Roland-Luc Beliveau said.

A spokesman for the RCMP told The Associated Press on Monday that the Mounties were monitoring the escape, but had no information indicating that the two convicts had made their way onto Canadian soil.

"The RCMP works closely with government and law enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States and shares information on an ongoing basis to ensure security along the border," said Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer.

Authorities are working on 300 leads and have released pictures of the inmates' tattoos, but so far there has been no trace of the pair.

Richard Matt, 48, was serving 25 years to life for dismembering his boss at a food warehouse near Buffalo, N.Y. After the incident, he fled to Mexico where he was convicted of killing a man.

David Sweat, 34, shot a sheriff's deputy 22 times after a burglary.

The pair, who are said to close friends, cut through a steel wall, crawled down a catwalk, broke through a brick wall, shimmied their way in and out of a steam pipe and surfaced through a manhole en route to their escape from the prison.

The elaborate escape from their adjoining cells at the Clinton Correctional Facility was discovered Saturday. Sweat and Matt had stuffed their bunks with clothes to avoid prior detection and also left behind a racist note saying "Have a nice day."

The intricate scheme has left many authorities wondering how it was orchestrated.

"It's very serious criminals, with a very thoroughly thought-out plan that they executed very well," said Bryce Peterson an expert on prison escapes at the Urban Institute.

It was not immediately clear how Sweat and Matt obtained the power tools needed to cut their way out.

Police suspect that the pair may have had inside help, and on Monday night a female prison employee was being interrogated. Investigators were also questioning all private contractors who had been working inside the facility.

A $100,000 reward was issued over the weekend for information leading to the men's capture.

With a report from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin and files from The Associated Press