Reports: Nurse in 'royal' hoax call is dead

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LONDON -- A nurse who took a hoax call from two Australian disc jockeys asking about the condition of Kate Middleton, Prince William's pregnant wife, was found dead Friday.

British media outlets, citing unnamed sources, reported that Jacintha Saldanha's death was a suspected suicide. Scotland Yard said the death was being treated "as unexplained."

Saldanha was a nurse at King Edward VII Hospital in London, the private facility where Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was taken earlier this week for treatment for acute morning sickness, which prompted the royal family to announce her pregnancy.

On Tuesday, two Australian DJs speaking in fake British accents and posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, phoned the hospital asking to speak to Middleton and for an update of her condition. A duped nurse told the "royal" callers that the duchess was asleep, had been rehydrated and was no longer vomiting.

The hospital's chief executive, John Lofthouse, said Friday that his staff was shocked by Saldanha's death.

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"She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues," Lofthouse told reporters. "We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her through this very difficult time."

A Buckingham Palace statement said that Prince William and his wife, who left the hospital Thursday, were "deeply saddened" by Saldanha's death.

2DayFM, the Australian station that performed the prank, said in a statement that the two disc jockeys, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, would not return to the station until further notice.

They had apologized for the hoax Wednesday.

Combined news services

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