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Haunting final words of magician who died when river stunt went wrong

Police say they have confirmed the death of a stuntman who died after tying himself up with chains and ropes before being lowered into the Ganges in Calcutta.

Chanchal Lahiri, aka Jadugar Mandrake or Wizard Mandrake, was lowered into the Indian river in front of family, friends and fans.

When he failed to emerge authorities initially believed it could have been part of his act.

His final words to reporters before going into the water were: ‘If I can open it up then it will be magic, but if I can’t it will be tragic.’

But when a period of time passed they realised something had gone wrong and launched a search.

Late yesterday police spokesman Syed Waquar Raza confirmed Lahiri, 40, was dead.

Speaking to reporters before taking part on Sunday’s feat, Lahiri said he pulled off a similar stunt 21 years ago at the same venue.


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

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.

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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