Sat, Jun 04, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Magician survives being buried alive for 100 hours

By Christine Lu  /  Reuters, TAIPEI

A man shakes hands with Igo, left, a Taiwanese magician buried in more than three tonnes of sand inside a telephone booth, at a park in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: DAVID CHANG, EPA

A Taiwanese magician who had himself buried alive in tonnes of dirt, leaving only one hand free, reached his goal of enduring for 100 hours despite an apparent panic attack only three hours after beginning.

The young man, known only by his stage name of Igo (艾革), entered a specially constructed telephone booth on Sunday night and was covered with 3.6 tonnes of dirt.

His life was sustained by a breathing tube, which members of his performance troupe also used to give him water every two hours, and sensors were attached to his body to monitor physical responses such as body temperature and heart rate. An alarm was set to sound if any of these indicated danger.

One hand stuck out from the tank, which was set outdoors, allowing Igo to write on a drawing pad to communicate with the outside world and to shake the hand of well-wishers.

“This hand can interact with people and also provides us with important messages,” the art director of Igo’s Mirror Theater Troupe, surnamed Chang (張), said during the four day ordeal. “If he gestures with the pinky, then the plan will be immediately terminated to release him, but he has not given us the sign so far.”

A hammer was at hand to break the acrylic walls of the booth if needed.

Chang said things had reached a critical point just three hours after the ordeal began, when Igo’s heart rate surged to 220 beats an hour. However, within 30 minutes, he calmed down.

More than 10,000 visitors shook Igo’s hand as it protruded from a hole in the booth and took photographs standing beside the booth. Others sent gifts and flowers.

“Hot. Holding on until completion of the challenge,” Igo wrote at one point.

Temperatures rose as high as 28?C.

Not everybody was impressed, though.

“I don’t think this is a good presentation and I don’t even think this is magic. It is just a human body challenge,” said Erica Chen, a 30-year-old designer.

Five hours before Igo’s ordeal ended, the sensors detached because of heavy rain, forcing his friends to monitor his condition by watching his hand.

As the clock ticked down to the final second on Thursday evening, men began to dig down from the top of the booth.

A grimy Igo, supported by assistants, finally staggered from the booth, thanked the crowd in a weak voice and went off to hospital in a prearranged ambulance.

The stunt, Chang said, was not just a physical challenge, but also a reminder to love the Earth, while reflecting on recent disasters around the world.

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