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Police: Magician Did Not Survive Houdini Stunt

His peers say mistakes cost 'Mandrake' his life
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2019 2:40 AM CDT
Updated Jun 19, 2019 4:33 AM CDT
This Sunday, June 16, 2019 photo shows Indian magician Chanchal Lahiri, being lowered in Hooghly river during a live performance in Kolkata, India.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A Houdini stunt in the Hooghly River was Mandrake the magician's last act, police in India say. The body of the magician, whose real name was Chanchal Lahiri, was pulled from the river Monday, a day after he was lowered into the water bound with a chain and six locks, authorities say. Syed Waquar Raza, deputy commissioner at the Port Division of Kolkata Police, tells CNN that the body of the 40-year-old magician was found more than a mile away from where he attempted the stunt. The alarmed crowd in Kolkata called the police Sunday after Lahiri failed to resurface after around 15 minutes.

Local photographer Jayanta Shaw tells the BBC that he spoke to Lahiri before the stunt. "I asked him why he risked his life for magic," Shaw says. "He smiled and said: 'If I do it right, it's magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'" Fellow magicians tell the Times of India that Lahiri made mistakes that cost him his life. They say he not only wore cumbersome clothing that would have made swimming extremely difficult, he failed to properly explain the act, including his escape plan, to his team. (This illusionist had a close call in a "water torture cell.")

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