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Alcatraz 1962 Escape Possible, Say Experts

New research shows the three convicts who broke out from the notorious prison island could have made it to land - if they had timed it right.

The inmates who absconded using a handmade raft - Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin - were never seen again despite an extensive search.

While many think they probably perished in the cold, treacherous waters of San Francisco Bay, their bodies were never found, prompting some people to believe they made it to freedom.

Now, using state-of-the-art computer simulation software, Dutch scientists say a craft leaving Alcatraz at 11.30pm on 11 June 1962 would most likely have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

While this is one-and-a-half hours later than had previously been assumed, the model shows debris in that scenario would most likely have washed up on Angel Island.

And this is exactly where one of the paddles and some personal belongings were found.

However, the simulations show if the prisoners had left before 11.30pm then they would have had no chance of surviving, with strong currents taking them out to sea.

The study was carried out by scientists at Delft University and the Deltares research institute, which are both in the Netherlands.

The findings are being presented this week at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

The Dutch scientists were developing a model of San Francisco Bay to study the impact of rising sea levels, when they realised it could also shed light on one of the United States' most intriguing mysteries.

The three bank robbers tunnelled out of their cells using sharpened spoons, leaving behind dummy heads - made from soap, toilet paper and hair - in their beds to fool the guards.

It is thought they then used an inflatable raft made out of raincoats to take to the water.

Fedor Baart, a hydraulic engineer at Deltares, said: "The simulations show that if the prisoners had left before 23:00, they would have had absolutely no chance of surviving.

"The strong currents would have taken them out to sea. However, if they left between 23:00 and midnight, there is a good chance they reached Horseshoe Bay north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

"The model predicts that any debris would then float back into the bay in the direction of Angel Island, exactly where the FBI found a paddle and some personal belongings."

Rolf Hut, a researcher at Delft University of Technology, added: "Of course, this doesn't prove this was what really happened, but the latest and best hydraulic modelling information indicates that it was certainly possible."

© Sky News, 2014