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Mon, Apr 19, 2004

India Movie Star Killed In Aviation Accident

Was Campaigning For Political Office

For Indian movie goers, it was as if a star the likes of Jodie Foster or Sigourney Weaver had been lost. The Telugu-language actress Soundarya was killed along with three others Saturday when their chartered Cessna 180 went down shortly after take-off.

It happened in India's Andhra Pradesh, where the 32-year old actress was on the stump for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party. While the cause of the crash wasn't immediately known, witnesses say the 180 was burning shortly before it went down.

Soundarya (right, pictured shortly before the accident), whose real name was Sowmya, Soundarya, 32, starred in almost 100 movies shot in the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages of southern India.

"It is a great tragedy to the film industry," said Mohanlal, a popular hero of southern India who acted with Soundarya in several movies. "More than a co-star, she was a good friend. It's a great loss."

Soundarya was headed for Karimnagar, where she was to campaign for BJP leader Vidyasagar Rao. He's the Central minister who's campaigning for re-election. "I don't know how to react," Rao said. "It is a big tragedy. I have never seen this tragedy in my life."

FMI: www.civilaviation.nic.in

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