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Man dies trying to set mark for being buried alive

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By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI
Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - A Sri Lankan man has died while trying to set a record for the longest time spent buried alive, police said Monday.

Police said Janaka Basnayake, 24, buried himself over the weekend with the help of family and friends in a trench sealed with wood and soil in the town of Kantale, about 137 miles (220 kilometers) north of Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo. A local newspaper reported that the trench was 10 feet (3 meters) deep.

Basnayake was buried at around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Police said that when he was brought to the surface at 4 p.m., he was unconscious and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Dr. D.G. Costa of the Kantale hospital said a post-mortem could not determine the cause of death and further medical investigations are being conducted.

Basnayake's mother, L.D. Leelawathi, said her son had enjoyed performing unusual acts since his childhood - a liking that grew after watching movies, the Lankadeepa newspaper reported.

It quoted her as saying that her son had been buried alive on two previous occasions - for two and a half hours and six hours respectively.

It was unclear whether there is an official world record for the longest time buried alive.

Police said Basnayake was a member of the Civil Defense Force, a police unit that fought in the country's 25-year civil war.

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