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Royal prank tragedy DJs break silence

The two Australian prank call DJs are distressed at the apparent suicide of the nurse who took the call.

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William with his wife the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Picture: AFP.

CANBERRA - Two Australian radio announcers who made a prank call to a British hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife Kate broke a three-day silence on Monday to speak of their distress at the apparent suicide of the nurse who took their call.

The 2DayFM Sydney-based announcers, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, said the tragedy had left them "shattered, gutted, and heartbroken".

Greig and fellow presenter and prank mastermind Christian have been in hiding since nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death and the subsequent social media outrage at their prank.

Their show, "Hot 30," has been terminated, the station's parent company, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), said in a statement on Monday. SCA also announced a company-wide suspension of prank calls.

Greig told Australian television her first thought when told of Saldanha's death was for her family.

"Unfortunately I remember that moment very well, because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened," she said, amid tears, her voice quavering with emotion. "I remember my first question was 'was she a mother?'"

"I've wanted to just reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they're okay, I really do. I hope they get through this," said Greig when asked about Saldanha's two children, left with their father Ben Barboza.

Saldanha, 46, was found dead in staff accommodation near London's King Edward VII hospital on Friday after putting the hoax call through to a colleague who unwittingly disclosed details of Kate's morning sickness to 2DayFM's presenters.

The nurse's family travelled from their home in the western English city of Bristol to meet with politician Keith Vaz in London on Monday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said news of the Saldanha's death was "shocking".

"I just feel incredibly sorry for her and her family. It's an absolute tragedy this has happened, and I'm sure everyone will want to reflect on how it was allowed to happen," he said.

The hospital at which Saldanha worked told the BBC it had not disciplined her for taking the prank call. On Monday, it announced the launch of a memorial fund in Saldanha's memory to benefit her family.

A post-mortem examination would be conducted on Tuesday, police said.

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