Indian magician ‘Wizard Mandrake’ feared dead after attempting dangerous Houdini river stunt

Indian magician Chanchal Lahiri is missing after attempting a dangerous water stunt (Picture: Reuters)

An Indian magician is feared dead after attempting to recreate a stunt made famous by Harry Houdini.

Chanchal Lahiri, also known as “Wizard Mandrake”, jumped into the Hooghly river in West Bengal state tied in steel chains and rope.

He was supposed to escape his shackles while underwater then swim to safety, but he did not resurface.

Spectators who gathered to watch Mr Lahiri perform the trick on Sunday alerted the police, who say they are searching for him.

Mr Lahiri waves to the crowd before a previous stunt in the Hooghly river in 2002 (Picture: Reuters)
Mr Lahiri has performed a number of water stunts in the past (Picture: Reuters)

He had been lowered into the river from a boat, bound with six locks and a chain as a crowd on two other boats looked on.

A crowd also gathered on the shore and on nearby Howrah Bridge in Kolkata.

Police and a diving team have searched the area since he went under but have been unable to locate him.

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Eyewitness Jayant Shaw, a photographer with a local newspaper, told the BBC he spoke to Mr Lahiri before the trick began.

"I asked him why he risked his life for magic," said Mr Shaw.

Mr Lahiri is lowered into the Hooghly river in a previous stunt in 2002 (Picture: Reuters)

"He smiled and said, 'If I do it right, it's magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'"

He said the magician told him he wanted to perform the trick to “revive interest in magic".

Mr Lahiri has successfully performed underwater tricks on other occasions - 20 years ago he emerged from a glass box after being lowered into the same river.

Mr Shaw said: "I never thought he would not come out of the water this time.”

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