As a timer counted down to the final second, men started to dig out dirt to help a Taiwanese magician to climb out from an acrylic booth on Thursday (June 2) evening after being buried alive for 100 hours.
Immediately after his release, Igo, the young magician who specializes in mind magic, thanked every one with a frail voice and was delivered to the hospital by a pre-arranged ambulance.
Igo made his public debut by entering a phone booth on Sunday (May 29) and covered his body with 3.6 tons of dirt.
His life was sustained by a breathing tube which also received water for him every two hours from members of his performance troupe.
Several safety measures were in place, including a hammer that could break the acrylic walls in emergencies.
Sensors were attached to Igo's body to monitor his physical responses, such as the body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. An alarm would sound if any of these indicated danger.
"The only channel that allows him to communicate with the outside world is his hand. His right hand is left outside. This hand can interact with people and also provides us with important messages, including his discomfort. If he gestures with the pinky, then the plan will be immediately terminated to release him out. But he has not given us the sign so far," said Chang Chia-lun, the art director of Igo's Mirror Theatre Troupe.
With one hand sticking out of the dirt filled tank, Igo also wrote on a drawing pad to communicate with the outside world.
Chang said that the situation reached a critical moment just three hours after the challenge began -- Igo's heart rate surged to 220 beats per minute, but he calmed down within half an hour.
Igo's creative mind is not new to his close friends who stopped by to cheer him on.
"I've known Igo for many years, and he never thinks like ordinary people, so I am not surprised with this unique idea. I wish him success," said Kenny Keng, Igo's stylist for more than two years.
But other visitors, like 30-year-old designer Erica Chen, looked at the dangerous stunt with disapproval.
"I don't think this is a good presentation, and I don't even think this is magic, this is only a human body challenge. I don't really agree with this type of performance," she said, adding that she hoped that magicians performing dangerous acts to win popularity does not become a trend.
During the four days, more than 10,000 visitors shook Igo's hand and took photographs with his booth, sending well wishes and support. Some also delivered gifts and flowers.
Chang said Igo spent three years to bring his body to top physical condition with daily jogging, and a diet in rich vitamins. In the final week before this challenge, he only took in fluids to control metabolism, and practised the burying routine for 24 hours.
The stunt, Chang added, was not only a physical challenge, but also a reminder to love the earth while reflecting on recent disasters around the world.