Jacintha Saldanha’s daughter Lisha (in grey sweater) and son Junal at Mangalore airport on Sunday; (right) the coffin with the nurse’s body in an ambulance before it was ferried to her hometown Shirva for burial on Monday. (Fotocorp, AFP pictures)
Bangalore, Dec. 16: The body of Jacintha Saldanha, the London nurse believed to have committed suicide after a hoax call, was brought to her hometown Mangalore in south Karnataka today.
It was then taken in an ambulance to her husband’s hometown Shirva in Udupi district, a further 50km to the north, for burial tomorrow.
The casket containing the 46-year-old nurse’s body was first flown from London to Mumbai, and then to Mangalore on a scheduled flight.
A crowd thronged Mangalore International Airport, 350 km from here, as the casket arrived and was received by Jacintha’s family around 2.30pm. Her husband Benedict Barboza and children Junal, 16, and Lisha, 14, accompanied the body to Shirva.
Jacintha apparently took her own life three days after two radio jockeys from an Australian station made the hoax call, claiming to be the Queen of England and Prince Charles, to the King Edward VII Hospital where she worked.
An unsuspecting Jacintha, who was helping at the switchboard, transferred the call to the duty nurse who revealed details about the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who was at the hospital with morning sickness.
Jacintha’s body was found hanging at her hospital accommodation on December 7.
Jacintha was a native of Valencia in the coastal city of Mangalore but had been a member of the parish in Shirva since her marriage.
Parish priest Father Stanley Touro told reporters the funeral would be held at 4pm tomorrow.
The body will be brought to the church around 3pm for prayers and public viewing. “We are expecting a large crowd both at her home in Shirva and at the church,” Fr Touro said.
Church sources said Jacintha’s ailing and aged mother, who lives with her son in Mangalore, would be brought to the funeral.
Crowd-control arrangements have been made, Udupi SP K. Boralingiah said. “Around 5,000 people are expected at the last rites, to be held at her home and the church in Shirva,” he said.
Finger at DJs
Jacintha left a note blaming the two Australian DJs behind the prank for her death, the Daily Mail has reported.
In one of her three purported suicide notes, the nurse expressed deep anger at the Australian radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian and blamed them for her death, the paper quoted sources close to her family as saying.
The paper reported that in another note Jacintha had criticised “aspects of the hospital staff” and singled out two individuals for blame.
The hospital has declined comment on the note, saying senior staff have not seen copies. Sources close to the family said their relationship with the hospital was strained as senior managers had not provided “facts” they sought.
Another family friend was quoted as saying that Jacintha may have tried to commit suicide more than once in the 72 hours. “She may have tried to kill herself more than once — that’s why there are three notes,” the friend said.
In her final letter, Jacintha is believed to have asked to be buried in Shirva.