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44 days later, Blaine ends stunt-turned-tourist stop

LONDON -- Severely weakened by 44 days of self-imposed starvation, American magician David Blaine left yesterday the clear-plastic box that has been his home -- and a major London tourist attraction.

Thousands of spectators watched the 30-year-old Blaine exit the box, which was suspended by a crane near Tower Bridge, after it was lowered to the banks of the River Thames. After living on only water since Sept. 5, Blaine was taken to a hospital for examination.

Londoners spent the first few weeks of Blaine's incarceration taunting the New York illusionist, pelting his box with eggs or zapping him with laser pens. One man was arrested for firing paint-filled balloons at the box, which measures 7 feet by 7 feet by 3 feet, and another was fined for trying to damage the water supply. But in recent weeks, ridicule has turned to respect, prompting large crowds of well-wishers to gather by the river and watch Blaine grow thinner, hairier, and more disheveled.

Sky television estimated that 250,000 spectators had visited the site since the stunt started, and traffic in the surrounding streets has been snarled for weeks due to the large numbers of people driving through the area to catch a glimpse.

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