Sri Lankan Janaka Basnayake, 24, was pulled unconscious out of a 3-metre (10 ft) trench after six and a half hours.

Family and friends helped to lower Basnayake into the trench, covered with soil and wood, at 9.30am, and after being pulled out at 4pm, he was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

His attempt took place in the town of Kantale, 220km north of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.

A post mortem could not confirm the cause of death, and it is yet to be determined whether there is an official world record for the longest time spent buried alive.

Basnayake’s mother, L.D. Leelawathi, told the Lankadeepa newspaper her son had performed unusual acts since childhood.

She said Basnayake, a member of the Civil Defense Force, had been buried alive twice before – for two and a half hours and six hours respectively.