Indian Magician Goes Missing After Being Dropped In Hooghly River
An Indian magician has disappeared after he was shackled and dropped in the Hooghly river over the weekend.
Chanchal Lahiri had his hands bound by chains and ropes wrapped around his body before being plunged into the water on Sunday.
Spectators piled on two boats and the landmark Howrah Bridge in Kolkata to watch the death-defying trick. When he never emerged from the water, onlookers informed the police and a major search is underway for the entertainer.
But though it's feared he may have died, authorities will not declare a death until a body is recovered.
Mr Lahiri is known for attempting to escape from incredibly perilous positions and several acts in the past - with varying degrees of success.
Speaking ahead of the attempt, Mr Lahiri said: "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 thick rope, my whole body will be in chains. There will be six locks.
"I will be picked up by a crane in that condition and lowered into the water."
His stage name is Jadugar Mandrake which translates in English to Wizard Mandrake.
Local photographer Jayant Shaw was one of the dozens of people who witnessed Mr Lahiri attempting the latest trick.
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Speaking to the BBC, Mr Shaw said he managed to speak to the magician before he attempted the escape act.
He said: "I asked him why he risked his life for magic. He (Mr Lahiri) smiled and said, 'If I do it right, it's magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic'."
Mr Lahiri then reportedly told the photographer that he was attempting the death-defying routine in order 'to revive interest in magic'.
This isn't the first time he has attempted an underwater escape. More than 20 years ago, he was locked inside a glass box and lowered in the same river as his most recent attempt.
However, unlike this one, he managed to escape the confines of the container and made it to safety.
At the time, Mr Lahiri told AFP: "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."
Mr Shaw witnessed that trick and said he had total confidence that he would make it out once again.
He said: "I never thought he would not come out of the water this time."
In 2013, the performer tried to do another underwater escape but was assaulted by a group of spectators after they saw him emerge through an escape hatch.
Featured Image Credit: BBC