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Kate prank-call victim is dead

A nurse at a London hospital who took a prank call from two Australian radio disc jockeys pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles to get details on Kate Middleton's medical condition was found dead Friday, the hospital said.

Jacintha Saldanha's death was confirmed by John Lofthouse, the chief executive of the King Edward VII hospital, where Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, was treated this week for acute morning sickness related to her pregnancy.

"She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues," Lofthouse said of Saldanha, who had worked at the hospital for four years. Lofthouse confirmed that Saldanha, 46, was the victim of the hoax and said the hospital had been supporting her "throughout this difficult time."

Audio of the prank phone call to the hospital, in which DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian were provided with information on Middleton's condition, was removed from the website of their radio station, 2DayFM, and the broadcaster's YouTube channel after the nurse's death. The station said the two, who had apologized Wednesday, would not be returning to the air until further notice.

- N.Y. Times News Service

Syrian rebels target airport

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad set their sights Friday on the capital's international airport in a bid to cut off the regime's supplies, clashing with government troops nearby and again forcing the closure of the airport road.

A fighter who is part of the push against Damascus International Airport declared it a legitimate target, saying that the regime has stationed troops and elite forces there as well as military planes that transport ammunition.

The clashes around Damascus, a city of 1.7 million, have already forced the suspension of commercial flights over the last week, although airport officials insist the facility was functioning normally on Friday. - AP

Typhoon death toll passes 500

NEW BATAAN, Philippines - Rescuers were digging through mud and debris Friday to retrieve more bodies strewn across a farming valley in the southern Philippines by a powerful typhoon. The death toll from the storm has surpassed 500, with more than 400 people missing.

More than 310,000 people have lost their homes since Typhoon Bopha struck Tuesday and are crowded inside evacuation centers or staying with relatives.

"I want to know how this tragedy happened and how to prevent a repeat," President Benigno Aquino III said during a visit to New Bataan town, the ground zero of the disaster. - AP