As many as 30 inmates at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup escaped last night, apparently after sawing through the bars on a window at the maximum security facility, authorities reported.

State police in Glen Burnie said they were informed of the escape by prison officials about 1:30 this morning. A police spokesman said he had been told that "several" inmates had been found missing during a bed check at 10:30 last night but that a final count completed after midnight showed 30 missing.

Baltimore city police said they had been informed by prison officials that 17 inmates had escaped.

Corrections personnel at the prison refused to speak with a reporter by telephone early this morning.

Every Maryland police jurisdiction was informed of the escape by early today, but none of the several contacted could provide any further details about the breakout.

State police spokesman Bill Clark said that all of the escapees were considered dangerous, but was unable to identify any of them or the crimes with which they have been charged.

Scores of state and local police were reported this morning searching the area around the 100-year-old prison, which is located about five miles north of Laurel on the Howard and Anne Arundel county lines.