Indian magician feared dead after attempting Houdini trick in Ganges

Rebecca Speare-Cole
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Indian magician feared dead after attempting Houdini trick in Ganges

An Indian magician who attempted to recreate Harry Houdini’s famed trick by jumping into a river bound and shackled is feared to have drowned.

Chanchal Lahiri was lowered by a crane into the River Hooghly, a distributary of the Ganges in West Bengal state.

The magician was meant to escape and swim to the surface but he did not emerge from the water on Sunday.

Mr Lahiri, also known as Jadugar Mandrake, was shackled with six locks, chains and rope before the plunged into the river.

The magician was tied up with steel chains and ropes (AFP/Getty Images)

He told reporters before the event: “The magic we are going to do today is so risky.

"First my hands will be tied behind my back with a rope. My legs will also be bound by a thick rope.

“My whole body will be in chains. There will be six locks.”

People gathered on two boats, and several people lined the shore and the landmark Howrah Bridge in Kolkata to watch the display.

They soon informed the police that he had not resurfaced. Police say they are now searching for him, according to the BBC.

The broadcaster reported that police and a team of divers searched the area, but so far they have been unable to find the magician.

Jayanta Shaw, a photographer with a local newspaper who witnessed Mr Lahiri attempting the trick told the BBC he spoke to the magician beforehand.

“I asked him why he risked his life for magic,” Mr Shaw said. “He 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 has attempted a risky underwater trick after 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 also witnessed Mr Lahiri's previous underwater trick, saying: "I never thought he would not come out of the water this time.”