Funeral held in India for nurse Jacintha Saldanha after royal hoax call tragedy

Monday 17 December 2012 17.54
Jacintha Saldanha's body arrived in India yesterday
Jacintha Saldanha's body arrived in India yesterday

Hundreds of mourners gathered in a small town in India today for the funeral of a nurse found dead after answering a prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was treated for morning sickness.

Friends and family paid their respects to Jacintha Saldanha, 46, during a simple ceremony in Shirva, about 50km north of Mangalore on the southwest coast.

Earlier, crowds lined the roads close to the Catholic church to pay their respects while relatives attended a private prayer ceremony at her home.

Ms Saldanha, a mother-of-two, was found dead in her nurses' quarters at London's King Edward VII's Hospital by a colleague and a security guard on 7 December.

Three days earlier she transferred a call from two Australian DJs, believing they were Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail Kate Middleton's condition during her hospital stay.

Her children, Junal, 16, and Lisha, 14, have described the "unfillable void" left in their lives by their mother's death.

During a mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, her husband Benedict Barboza fought back tears as he paid an emotional tribute to his wife, telling mourners: "I feel a part of me has been ripped out."

Today he accompanied a casket carrying her body into Our Lady of Health Church at around 4pm local time, after journeying back to the family's hometown for the funeral.

Authorities in India are understood to have made extensive arrangements - upping security and setting up barricades - to accommodate crowds of mourners touched by Ms Saldanha's death.