<!--[if IE]><![endif]-->
India
India

Indian magician Chanchal Lahiri drowns attempting Houdini trick

  • 18 June 2019
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionIndia magician disappears in river after Houdini trick

An Indian magician who was lowered into a river while shackled in a bid to recreate Harry Houdini's world-famous trick has drowned, police confirmed.

Chanchal Lahiri was meant to escape and swim to safety but did not emerge from the Hooghly river in West Bengal state.

Crowds who watched him take the plunge on Sunday alerted the police, who then launched a search operation.

His body, which washed up some 1km (0.6 miles) from the site of the incident, was identified late on Monday.

Mr Lahiri, also known as Mandrake, was lowered into the river from a boat for his trick.

He was shackled with six locks and a chain as spectators on two boats watched him.

Several people had also gathered by the shore and some stood on the landmark Howrah Bridge in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

According to the Press Trust of India, the crowd started to panic after Mr Lahiri did not appear after more than 10 minutes.

Image copyright Ei Samay Image caption Chanchal Lahiri went by the stage name Mandrake

Jayanta Shaw, a photographer with a local newspaper, witnessed Mr Lahiri attempting the trick. He told the BBC that he spoke to him before the magician started his act.

"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.

According to Press Trust of India, Mr Lahiri had sought permission from the Kolkata Police and Kolkata Port Trust before performing his trick.

However, he did not mention that the trick would have a "connection with water", said police.

"He had mentioned the act was to happen in a boat or vessel... hence we allowed him permission. He vaguely mentioned an 'extra act' which we did not clarify," said a police officer who was not identified. "We are investigating."

Related Topics

More on this story

  • PC Sorcar: India's 'maharajah of magic' who terrified the UK
    3 June 2018
  • The maharajah and the well
    29 November 2012

Top Stories

UK ran around 'like idiots' in Brexit negotiations

The EU Commission's first vice-president claimed ministers turned up to Brussels without a plan in 2017.

17 July 2019
Ministers mull night ban for young drivers
18 July 2019
Ebola outbreak declared global health emergency
17 July 2019

Features

The school exam controversy that cost 23 lives

Six global issues the UK's new PM will have to tackle

Why US bird attacks on humans are on rise

Trekking 10,000km across Africa for a football match

Should I offset my summer holiday flights?

Trade war infects Asia as exports plunge

Film and TV fans set for Comic-Con 2019 treats

Elsewhere on the BBC