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Indian Houdini drowns after ‘magic’ act goes wrong

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Indian police on Monday recovered the body of a magician who drowned while trying to replicate an underwater Houdini-inspired stunt — tying himself up with chains and ropes and being lowered into a river.

Rescue workers found the body of Chanchal Lahiri late Monday in the Hooghly river, the deputy commissioner of the port division of Kolkata police, Syed Waquar Raza, told AFP

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The 40-year-old Lahiri, who was known by his stage name “Jadugar Mandrake” (Wizard Mandrake), was lowered by winch into the river in Kolkata on Sunday in a yellow and red costume.

But the 40-year-old — his legs and his arms tightly bound — failed to emerge from the water, to the horror of onlookers including his family and team members.

Authorities had initially believed that the vanishing act could be part of the stunt but immediately mobilised help to rescue him.

Lahiri told AFP before the attempted escape act that he had successfully pulled off a similar stunt 21 years ago at the same venue in the eastern city.

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“I was inside a bulletproof glass box tied with chain and locks and dropped down from Howrah bridge. Then I came out within 29 seconds,” he said.

He admitted it would be tough to free himself this time.

“If I can open it up then it will be magic, but if I can’t it will be tragic,” he said.

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He also said he was undertaking the death-defying stunt to “revive interest in magic”.

When Lahiri tried another stunt at the river in 2013, he was assaulted by onlookers who saw him escape from a locked cage via a door that was clearly visible.

He was beaten and punched and his long flowing golden-brown wig was pulled off by the crowd.

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Almost a decade earlier, he declared he would walk on the river waters but had to beat a hasty retreat when the act went wrong.

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 New York in 1912.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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2020 Election

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President Donald Trump's war against the media has taken a next step. According to The New York Times, Trump's allies have been compiling information on reporters at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times to strike back because the president believes they "aggressively investigated" him.

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