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Indian-origin nurse duped in Kate prank call found dead

December 08, 2012 00:36 IST

An Indian-origin nurse who was duped into transferring a hoax call that gave away information on pregnant Kate Middleton's medical condition to Australian radio presenters was Friday found dead in a suspected suicide.

The unconscious body of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found Friday morning at an address yards away from King Edward VII Hospital.

In a statement St James's Palace said: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha. Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

"We can confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha. Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII's Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and a well-respected and popular member of staff with all her colleagues," the hospital said in a separate statement.

"We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital has been supporting her at this difficult time."

Jacintha answered the hoax call at 5.30am on Wednesday morning, and was helping out on reception at the time of the prank. Giggling DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian were pretending to be the British Queen and Prince Charles and asked her if they could be put through to Kate.

Jacintha connected them to another nurse who gave details of Kate's condition, who was suffering from acute morning sickness at the London hospital.

The exact cause of death remained unclear. However, media in London indicated that the woman appeared to have killed herself.

Her family, husband and two children have been informed.

Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse said: "Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague."

Scotland Yard said the death was not being treated as suspicious.

Sydney-based 2Day FM is continuing to promote its prank call on air. It called "the prank call the world is talking about" before playing clips of news programmes reporting on the original call, in the middle of a dance music programme.

A St James's Palace spokesman said: "At no point did the Palace complain to the hospital about the incident. On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."

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