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Dubai closes case on Indian actress, calls death an accident

Trinidad Express / DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai investigators on Tuesday closed the case into the death last weekend of Indian movie icon Sridevi, calling it an accidental drowning.

The 54-year-old Sridevi, who was known by only one name, drowned in a hotel bathtub after losing consciousness, officials say. Police officials have said the autopsy also revealed alcohol in her system.

“The case has now been closed,” the state-run Dubai Media office tweeted.

Her family has been given permission to take her body back to India, officials said.

Her death has been front-page news in India, where Bollywood stars command an almost mythical status. Fans have been gathering in front of the Mumbai home of her brother-in-law, prominent actor Anil Kapoor.

The coverage has been both lurid and restrained, with one TV station showing a reporter talking about her death from inside a bathtub, and many newspapers not mentioning the alcohol reports.

Sridevi was the most famous Bollywood actress of the 1980s and ’90s, and the first woman to get top billing in an industry then completely dominated by men. Starting out as a child star in south Indian regional movies, she later became known for her impeccable comic timing as well as her dancing skills – a serious asset in a country where song-and-dance melodramas are a movie staple.

She was embalmed Tuesday in a simple government-run mortuary in a dusty neighborhood of squat, square buildings that house some of Dubai’s immense population of foreign workers, many of whom come from South Asia. On Tuesday afternoon, a crowd of Indian laborers gathered around a fence near the mortuary, looking in and talking softly among themselves about her.

Indian media reported that Anil Ambani, a wealthy Mumbai-based industrialist, dispatched a private plane to Dubai to carry Sridevi’s body back home. It was not immediately clear when that would happen.

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