Magician feared dead as Houdini-inspired stunt in river goes wrong

/ cbs/AFP

An Indian magician who went missing after being lowered into a river while tied up with chains and ropes in a Houdini-inspired stunt is feared drowned, police said Monday. Chanchal Lahiri, 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. Rescue workers have been scouring the fast-flowing murky waters since Sunday but he was yet to be found, Syed Waquar Raza from the river traffic police told AFP.

In this photo taken on June 16, 2019 Indian stuntman Chanchal Lahiri, known by his stage name "Jadugar Mandrake", is lowered into the Ganges river, while tied up with steel chains and ropes, in Kolkata. Str / AFP/Getty Images

"We fear he drowned in the river," he said.

Trending News

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

"I was inside a bullet proof 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. "If I can open it up then it will be magic, but if I can't it will be tragic," he said.

Jayanta Shaw, a photographer with a local newspaper, witnessed Lahiri attempting the trick. He told the BBC that he spoke to him before the magician started his act.

"I asked him why he risked his life for magic," Shaw said. "He smiled and said, 'If I do it right, it's magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'"

The magician told him that he wanted "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.

First published on June 17, 2019 / 8:24 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

INDIA-MAGICIAN

Buttigieg says "it's almost certain" he wouldn't be first gay president

The 2020 presidential candidate admitted his "gaydar" doesn't work that well, so he can't tell which specific presidents were gay

18M ago

Video shows cops pull gun, threaten parents of alleged 4-year-old shoplifter

Incident caught on video shows police cursing and pointing guns, kicking and threatening to shoot couple with children after responding to a report of shoplifting

1H ago

Buttigieg goes back to South Bend after man killed by police

He said he changed his campaign schedule to go back to South Bend to speak to reporters. He called on ay witnesses to the shooting to come forward

1H ago

Trump pollsters fired after leaked numbers show him trailing Biden

His campaign's own polling shows him trailing Biden 39% to 55% in Pennsylvania, 41% to 51% in Wisconsin, and by 7 points in Florida

1H ago

Report urges travelers to get MMR vaccine due to European outbreak

According to data from the World Health Organization, 41,000 measles cases were reported from January to June 2018 across 53 European countries

5H ago

Buttigieg says "it's almost certain" he wouldn't be first gay president

The 2020 presidential candidate admitted his "gaydar" doesn't work that well, so he can't tell which specific presidents were gay

18M ago

Buttigieg goes back to South Bend after man killed by police

He said he changed his campaign schedule to go back to South Bend to speak to reporters. He called on ay witnesses to the shooting to come forward

1H ago

Trump pollsters fired after leaked numbers show him trailing Biden

His campaign's own polling shows him trailing Biden 39% to 55% in Pennsylvania, 41% to 51% in Wisconsin, and by 7 points in Florida

1H ago

2020 Sunday Trail Markers: Biden leads field in CBS News poll

CBS News' Battleground Tracker poll shows Biden leading the field, with Warren​, Harris and Sanders close behind

9H ago

Israel renames Golan Heights town in honor of Trump

Israel is hoping the rebranded "Ramat Trump" — Hebrew for "Trump Heights" — will encourage a wave of residents to vastly expand it

12H ago

Magician feared dead as Houdini-inspired stunt goes wrong

"I asked him why he risked his life for magic," local photographer says. "He smiled and said, 'If I do it right, it's magic. If I make a mistake, it becomes tragic.'"

26M ago

Iran says it will break key nuclear deal uranium limit in 10 days

But Tehran also says European nations can still save the accord

1H ago

Report urges travelers to get MMR vaccine due to European outbreak

According to data from the World Health Organization, 41,000 measles cases were reported from January to June 2018 across 53 European countries

5H ago

Freed Hong Kong activist rekindles demonstrations

Wong served a brief sentence for his role in 2014 Umbrella Movement protests and, soon after his release, encouraged demonstrators taking part in latest round of protests

3H ago

Prince Harry celebrates Father's Day with picture of Archie

"Happy Father's Day!" reads the caption on Instagram. "And wishing a very special first Father's Day to The Duke of Sussex"

11H ago

Prince Harry celebrates Father's Day with picture of Archie

"Happy Father's Day!" reads the caption on Instagram. "And wishing a very special first Father's Day to The Duke of Sussex"

11H ago

Highest-grossing movies of all time, ranked

What's the highest-grossing movie of all time? It might be one of your favorites

Jun 4 27 photos

Elaine Welteroth talks new book, career and relationships

Former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief and Project Runway judge Elaine Welteroth is now writing about her own experiences

17H ago

"Toy Story 4" star Tim Allen on comedy and tragedy

The star of "Home Improvement" and the voice of Buzz Lightyear talks about a difficult past that led to a stellar career

23H ago

Mining lessons from the blockbuster game Minecraft

One of the bestselling video games of all time has no guns or blood, just chunky building blocks – a virtual Lego universe that has found its way into classrooms

Jun 16

Mining lessons from the blockbuster game Minecraft

One of the bestselling video games of all time has no guns or blood, just chunky building blocks – a virtual Lego universe that has found its way into classrooms

Jun 16

From deepfake to "cheap fake," it's hard to tell what's real online

Cybersecurity experts are concerned that because AI has never been cheaper or easier to use, deepfake videos will be deployed by a diverse set of hackers during the 2020 election

Jun 13

Instagram outage affected its homepage and mobile app

The photo and video sharing social media platform outage hit those on the East and West coasts Thursday

Jun 13

Bitcoin emits as much carbon as Las Vegas, researchers say

Computers that mine and process bitcoins use vast amounts of energy, troubling climate experts

Jun 13

House holds hearing on "deepfakes" and artificial intelligence

Lawmakers are concerned "deepfakes​" and other types of AI-generated synthetic data pose a threat to the U.S. election system

Jun 13

NASA to land 1st woman on moon as part of Artemis mission

NASA's project aims to bring human beings back to the moon by 2024

12H ago

40,000-year-old wolf's head found in Siberia permafrost

Ice Age beast was between the ages of 2 and 4 when it died and was preserved in the permafrost

Jun 14

Number of dolphin deaths triple in Gulf of Mexico

NOAA scientists say 98% of the dolphins that stranded themselves along the Gulf Coast have died

Jun 14

NASA spots "Star Trek" Starfleet logo on Mars

Hopefully, it finds some aliens sporting Vulcan salutes next

Jun 14

Nature up close: Wildlife and the story behind "Taco Bell's Cannon"

Judy Lehmberg explains how a misunderstanding by this classical musical newbie relates to imagery of animals on an unspoiled Earth

Jun 13

Report urges travelers to get MMR vaccine due to European outbreak

According to data from the World Health Organization, 41,000 measles cases were reported from January to June 2018 across 53 European countries

5H ago

Firefighters battle occupational cancer

Since 2002, almost 2 out of 3 firefighters who died in the line of duty died of cancer, as today's fires produce an ever-more toxic brew of chemicals, yet many sickened first responders are being denied workers' comp benefits

Jun 16

Patients skipping prescriptions as prices rise

When Maryanne Perry lost her health insurance coverage, she discovered a $50 copay would jump to $1,000 a month

Jun 14

King Arthur flour recall in multistate E. coli outbreak

The action involves more than 14,000 cases made by Archer Daniels Midland and sold by retailers including Walmart

Jun 14

U.N. says Ebola outbreak still not a global emergency

Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,400 people since it was declared in August, making it the second-deadliest in history

Jun 14

Bitcoin billionaires Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss

Famously portrayed in "The Social Network" as the pair of Harvard athletes who believed Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook, they're now famously successful cryptocurrency entrepreneurs with the bitcoin exchange Gemini

22H ago

Chicago bank buys majority in Texas burger joint Whataburger

Texans defensive end JJ Watt suggested "we all chip in and buy Whataburger back"

Jun 15

Target stores had hourslong register outage nationwide

The outage lasted approximately two hours, according to the company

Jun 15

Ivanka Trump made $4 million from D.C. Trump Hotel last year

The first daughter's now-defunct clothing line also raked in more than $1 million in income, the White House disclosed

Jun 14

PetSmart's Chewy soars 59% in IPO

The online retailer has never turned a profit, but it's counting on Americans spending more money on their pets

Jun 14

Several people shot, 1 fatally at Philadelphia graduation party

Police say all victims were in their teens and 20's and no arrests have been made

2H ago

Costco shooting victim's family speaks out amid LAPD investigation

Authorities say Kenneth French, 32, attacked an off-duty Los Angeles police officer inside a Southern California Costcto warehouse store Friday night

10H ago

Phoenix mayor says police video "beyond upsetting"

Phoenix's mayor is apologizing in wake of a video that shows a disturbing altercation between the city's police and a young family. Officers are seen pointing their guns and threatening to shoot a father who was with his young family. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.

13H ago 01:43

Could a new Calif. law free a convicted killer when he turns 25?

When an elderly couple was found brutally murdered in their bed — stabbed 128 times — police faced the coldest killer they’d ever encountered … and he was just 15

Jun 15

Woman who worked on lawmaker's campaign arrested in homicide

Linda Collins-Smith's remains were found outside her home in Pocahontas, Arkansas

Jun 15

NASA to land 1st woman on moon as part of Artemis mission

NASA's project aims to bring human beings back to the moon by 2024

12H ago

NASA spots "Star Trek" Starfleet logo on Mars

Hopefully, it finds some aliens sporting Vulcan salutes next

Jun 14

Earth approaching "meteor swarm" eyed in past impact

Scientists hope to study the Taurid meteor shower closely, in hopes of better predicting the risk of a future impact

Jun 12

SpaceX launches 3 Earth-observation satellites

The three Radarsat satellites will monitor resources and the effects of climate change across Canada

Jun 12

Jupiter's largest moons visible with binoculars in June

NASA has a message for space lovers this month: Look up

Jun 11

Photographer Dave Engledow, the "World's Best Father"

He calls himself the "World's Best Father," and he's got the pictures of himself and his daughter, Alice, to prove it

22H ago 16 photos

Forbes: World's top 20 billionaires

Forbes has updated their billionaires list, detailing the richest people around the world.

Jun 13 21 photos

Tony Awards 2019: Red carpet looks from your favorite stars

See Broadway stars walk the red carpet at Radio City Music Hall in New York City at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards

Jun 9 39 photos

Jayme Closs case: Recently released evidence photos

At Jake Patterson's sentencing hearing, prosecutors showed a select few evidence photos to the court and asked that Patterson be sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Jayme Closs' parents and the 13-year-old's kidnapping

Jun 8 14 photos

Summer music 2019

It's summertime – time for music at festivals and venues across the country

Jun 8 42 photos

Popular

Mom finds lost daughter via Find My Friends

A North Carolina mother says a location-sharing app helped her rescue her 17-year-old daughter after she crashed her car and landed at the bottom of a 25-foot ravine. Vladimir Duthiers reports.

updated 8M ago 02:06

US pressed France on World Cup security

Team USA will go to the next round of the Women’s World Cup after Sunday's three to nothing win over Chile. Team captain Carli Lloyd scored two goals, including a spectacular strike. The team is playing in front of big crowds in the stands and State Department agents are looking for threats behind the scenes. Roxana Saberi reports.

updated 12M ago 03:54

Life inside Syria's last rebel stronghold

CBS News has gained rare access inside Syria, which is now in its eighth year of civil war. Syrian forces have begun a new bombing campaign, and there are fears that a full-scale offensive could be next. The province of Idlib, home to three million people, is one of the last remaining areas in western Syria that the government does not control. Holly Williams recently returned from Idlib, where she saw firsthand what life is like for those living in constant fear.

updated 3M ago 02:30

CBS News poll shows Biden leading Democrats

For the first CBS News battleground tracker poll, CBS News and YouGov spoke to more than 16,000 registered voters in 18 states that will hold the first primaries and caucuses. Primary voters in those states, from Iowa in early February to the Super Tuesday states in March, will help narrow down the 24 declared Democratic candidates. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss what he found.

updated 3M ago 04:11

All that matters in 90 seconds

A look back at what we've been covering on "CBS This Morning."

updated 3M ago 01:20