An Indian magician who attempted to recreate Harry Houdini’s trick by jumping shackled into a river is feared dead as he never reappeared after the stunt.
41-year-old Chanchal Lahiri, who goes by the nickname name Mandrake, was shackled with six locks and a chain before he was lowered into the deep Hooghly river in West Bengal state Sunday. He was meant to perform magic and swim to safety, but he never came out of the river.
Spectators who watched him lowered into the river from a boat on Sunday informed the police. Both police and a team of divers searched for the 41-year-old magician to no avail.
“When he did not come out for a long time, people panicked,” Syed Waquar Raza, deputy commissioner of the Port Division for Kolkata police, told the Times of India.
“A couple of people said they saw a man struggling, seeking help, in the middle of the river. The North Port police was informed and a team of divers from the disaster management group joined the rescue operation. Till late evening, Lahiri’s body was yet to be recovered.”
Lahiri, who lives in the southern suburbs of Kolkata, contacted authorities prior to the stunt, mentioning that it was going to happen on a boat or vessel and “there was no connection with water,” Raza told the outlet.
According to the BBC , a photographer with a local newspaper named Jayanta Shaw said he witnessed Mr Lahiri attempting the trick. He said that he spoke to him before he started the ‘magic’.
“I asked him why he risked his life for magic,” Mr Shaw said. “He [Mr Lahiri] smiled and said, ‘If I do it right, it’s magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'”
The magician told him that he wanted to do this trick in order “to revive interest in magic”.
This is not the first time that Mr Lahiri had attempted a risky underwater trick.
He was lowered into the same river inside a glass box more than 20 years ago but had managed to escape to safety.
Mr Shaw had also witnessed Mr Lahiri’s previous underwater trick.
“I never thought he would not come out of the water this time,” he said.