Soul star Diana Ross' troubled New Year has been soured even further, after learning her ex-husband ARNE NAESS has died in a mountain-climbing accident in South Africa.

The Norwegian shipping magnate, 66, died yesterday (13JAN04), while climbing in Franschoek in the Western Cape.

International media liaison senior superintendent MARY MARTINSENGELBRECHT says, "It's not certain what was the cause of death but it's believed it was a climbing accident."

She says Naess, who had two children with former SUPREMES frontwoman Ross, was a guest of JOHANN RUPERT, executive chairman of luxury goods giant SWISS-SOUTH AFRICAN RICHEMONT.

German-born Naess, nephew of noted pioneer and philosopher ARNE NAESS SR, was an avid mountaineer who conquered the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, in 1985. He leaves seven children, including two with his partner CAMILLA ASTRUP.

The news has dealt an extra blow to Ross, who is facing jail after entering a plea bargain in her drink-driving case.

14/01/2004 09:05