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Corrections officials say Jermaine Carvery was wearing street clothing when he escaped. ((Justice Department))

Nova Scotia's head of corrections says he's stumped as to how a prisoner managed to get out of locked leg restraints and run away.

"We know he was placed in the van double-locked and he came out without the restraints on," said Fred Honsberger, executive director of Corrections Services. "That's a mystery."

Honsberger faced a second day of questions Friday as police continue to hunt for Jermaine Carvery, a Halifax man facing charges of attempted murder and hostage-taking.

Carvery, 30, jumped out of a transport van Thursday afternoon on his way from jail in Dartmouth to a medical appointment at the Centennial Building in Halifax.

Honsberger confirmed Carvery's wrists were bound by handcuffs and there were leg irons around his ankles when he was placed in the van.

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Officials say Jermaine Carvery escaped from leg restraints that were very similar to those pictured. The restraints at left are handcuffs. ((Mari Ito/CBC News))

Yet, Carvery — still wearing handcuffs — got the leg restraints off and bolted out of the back door of the vehicle when it stopped at the hospital, then led an unarmed guard on a chase for several minutes.

"We'll be interested in the results and the findings of the investigation," Honsberger said.

Honsberger said the leg restraints use a "universal key," but said Carvery was thoroughly searched before he left for his appointment.

The leg irons were later found locked.

Honsberger said it's unlikely that Carvery could have slipped the restraints past his heels.

As for the timeline, Honsberger said the guard chasing Carvery called the jail from a cellphone around 1:30 p.m.

However, no one from the jail called Halifax Regional Police until 1:39 p.m.

"That nine-minute gap is of concern," Honsberger said.

Police said they immediately sent a dozen officers to the scene. Several blocks around the van were cordoned off as police with dogs scoured the area.

Police continued to search for Carvery throughout the night.

"We've checked with all of his known associates," said Const. Jeff Carr. "We acted on information that we received in the very early morning hours that he may have been at a Creighton Street apartment. That turned up negative."

Carr said police don't know whether Carvery left the province, but they are in contact with police across the country.

Carvery faces a number of charges, including attempted murder and hostage-taking. He's accused of being the ringleader of an armed robbery a Costco store in Halifax in 2004, in which 42 employees were bound and gagged.

This is the fourth time since December that a prisoner in the province has escaped or been accidentally released from custody.