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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Indian actress dies in air crash
Telugu-language film star Soundarya
The plane carrying Soundarya caught fire after take-off, reports say
An Indian movie star who was campaigning for the forthcoming elections has died in an air crash.

Actress Soundarya,32,famous among fans of south Indian cinema, was on her way to an election rally, reports say.

Her aircraft crashed soon after take-off from the southern city of Bangalore. Police said all four passengers were killed.

Soundarya, a star of Telugu language films, was campaigning for India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Wholesome image

The others killed in the crash included Soundarya's brother, an official from the BJP and the pilot, a party spokesman told the Associated Press news agency.

The BJP leader and Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has expressed his sorrow at her death.

Wreckage of plane
The exact cause of the crash is not yet known

The cause of the crash is not yet known, but reports say the aircraft caught fire minutes after taking off.

A crowd of locals had gathered around the debris littering the crash site.

Soundarya had starred in more than 85 films, was regarded as a key asset for the BJP in its campaign to win over voters in the area.

In her films, she avoided racy, suggestive roles in favour of a more wholesome image.

"She was one of the best female actresses we have had," said Mohan Lal, a leading actor who had starred with Soundarya.

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