Brazilian TV star drowns river after filming soap opera
A Brazilian actor has drowned in a river where he shot scenes for a soap opera, with his body recovered hours after a companion was unable to pull him from the water.
Domingos Montagner went for a swim on Thursday afternoon in the Sao Francisco River in Caninde, a small town in the north-east state of Sergipe.
Mr Montagner played the leading role in Velho Chico, a soap opera named after the river where he died, and was one of Brazil's most-loved actors.
Actress Camila Pitanga, who was with him, told police that he was carried away by a strong current while she managed to swim to a rock and twice tried to grab Mr Montagner's hand.
The BBC reports that Ms Pitanga cried for help but local people failed to act at first as they thought the drowning was a scene in the soap opera.
The authorities were then alerted and a large search begun.
Mr Montagner's body was found several hours later, lodged between two rocks, according to rescue crews.
Jose Aparecido Cardoso, director of the state Legal Medical Institute, told G1 news portal the well-known actor's body was found 18 metres below the surface and 320 metres from where he was last seen. He confirmed that the actor had drowned.
The 54-year-old starred in the popular soap opera as a farmer who often had to fight off gunmen. Globo TV, which produces the series, said the crew had been shooting in the area.
In one of his scenes, he was shot multiple times and appeared to drown in the same Sao Francisco river, before reappearing weeks later.
The actors "thought the area they picked to swim was safe, but in fact it's one of the most dangerous places to bathe", Antonio Francisco Filho, a local government official, told G1. "This is a part of the river in Caninde that isn't common for bathers."
Mr Montagner had been a circus performer and acted in the theatre before getting into television in the last few years. He was married to actress Luciana Lima since 2001 and had three children.
Globo TV showed scenes from a previous episode of Velho Chico, in which Mr Montagner is shot and left for dead in the Sao Francisco River. He is later rescued by Indians in the area.