Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

India Magician Feared Drowned After Houdini Trick

Chanchal Lahiri the Wizard Mandrake Mr Lahiri attempts one of his underwater escapes in 2013. Source Youtube ABPMore
Patty Aguilar | 17 June, 2019, 19:28

A search-and-rescue crew has been combing the waters to find him, but police told the news agency Monday he is believed to be dead.

He told excited onlookers: "If I can open it up then it will be magic, but if I can't it will be tragic".

But the 40-year-old failed to emerge from the water, triggering a frantic search by authorities and his family have confirmed they are still looking for him.

Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American stuntman who became a sensation in the early 20th century with daredevil feats including escaping from a crate lowered into the East River in NY in 1912.

Spectators who gathered to watch Mr Lahiri perform the trick on Sunday alerted the police, who say they are searching for him.

There are conflicting reports about whether Lahiri jumped into the broadest part of the river from the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata or was dropped in with a crane.

Chanchal Lahiri was meant to escape and swim to safety but did not emerge from the Hooghly river in West Bengal state. "Hence, we allowed him permission", he said.

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"He had mentioned the act was to happen in a boat or vessel and there was no connection with water". "Our divers dived deep, but could not locate him", a senior police said. Then I came out within 29 seconds, ' he told AFP.

Eyewitness Jayant Shaw, a photographer with a local newspaper, told the BBC he spoke to Mr Lahiri before the trick began.

"We have started an investigation into the matter and as to how a crane reached the Howrah Bridge", the police officer said. "He [Lahiri] smiled and said, "If I do it right, it's magic".

Lahiri attempted the river trick in 2013 but ended up cutting it short after being assaulted by witnesses who saw him escape from the box via a disguised door on the side.

"I asked him why he risked his life for magic", Mr Shaw said.

A decade ago, Lahiri had also declared that he would walk on the river but had to retreat when his act went wrong.

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