David Blaine's attempt to break the world record for holding breath under water ended in failure overnight

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David Blaine's attempt to break the world record for holding breath under water ended in failure overnight.
The illusionist was pulled from a water tank in New York after blacking out. His record attempt had been the climax of his show Drowned Alive - a title the New York Times remarked had suggested "a certain pessimism".

Blaine managed to hold his breath for 7min 8sec - just under two minutes short of the 8min 58sec record.

He tried to set a new mark after an underwater endurance challenge that saw him spend seven days in a globe-shaped tank outside the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts in Manhattan.

Huge crowds gathered as the 33-year-old survived the week, breathing and being fed through tubes.

After two days, doctors warned he was suffering some liver damage and his skin was peeling badly, but he apparently rejected at least one attempt by his medical team to end the stunt.

ABC television last night broadcast a two-hour special programme culminating in the record attempt. During the programme, Blaine - wearing a diver's helmet with a two-way communication system - told reporters he would give it his "best shot".

He had planned to put on chains and handcuffs, remove his oxygen tube and then escape while holding his breath for longer than anyone had managed before.

"He is pushing his body insanely to the limits," Dr Murat Gunel, the head of Blaine's medical team and is associate professor of neurosurgery at Yale University School of Medicine, said before the attempt.

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But as Blaine's face contorted in pain and bubbles came to the surface, it was clear he was blacking out. Kirk Krack, his trainer and a diving expert, sent divers to release him and pull him from the tank.
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