Nurse death: Hundreds attend funeral of Jacintha Saldanha
13:09 17 December 2012
Mourners gathered in India today for the funeral of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who 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 the 46-year-old, during a simple ceremony in Shirva, some 30 miles north of Mangalore on the south-west 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 hanging in her nurses’ quarters at Marylebone’s King Edward VII’s Hospital by a colleague and a security guard on December 7.
It came after she transferred a call from two Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the Duchess’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.
Today her husband Benedict Barboza accompanied a casket carrying her body into Our Lady of Health Church at around 4pm local time, after journeying back to the family’s home-town for the funeral.
Mr Barboza was seen consoling his weeping daughter during the burial service in which she scattered earth on her mother’s grave.
Earlier, relatives carried the coffin through the cemetery before Mr Barboza, flanked by his two children, watched as it was lowered into the ground.
He held them both in a tight embrace as Lisha broke down in tears.
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.
Jesuit priest Fr Richard Rego, who has worked in the region for more than a decade, said the close-knit town had been left in shock.
“The local community were jolted,” he said. “They are now coming together to support the family.”
Mr Barboza is understood to be spending Christmas with his family in Shirva as he comes to terms with his wife’s death.
Ms Saldanha left two notes in her room and had marks on her wrist when her body was discovered, Westminster Coroner’s Court in London heard on Thursday.