Entertainment & Arts

Whitney Houston's body arrives home in New Jersey

Whitney Houston's body has been flown from California to her home state of New Jersey, ahead of a funeral expected later this week.

A gold hearse took her body from Teterboro airport to a funeral home in her hometown of Newark, reports said.

The 48-year-old singer was found underwater and unconscious on Saturday in a bath at a hotel in Beverly Hills, police said.

Toxicology tests are under way after an autopsy on Sunday.

The authorities say it may be up to eight weeks before they can confirm the cause of death.

No criminal probe is under way, police said, but LA's coroner said her room did contain some prescription drugs.

Funeral plans

In a news conference on Monday, Beverly Hills police spokesman Lt Mark Rosen said fire department officials were told the singer was found unresponsive on Saturday morning.

"Ms Houston was pulled from the tub by members of her staff and hotel security was promptly notified," he said.

"First aid and CPR measures were performed in an attempt to revive her," he said, adding that after unsuccessful attempts, Houston was pronounced dead at 15:55 local time (23:55 GMT).

The police spokesman played down reports that prescription drugs might have been involved in her death.

"Our intent at Beverly Hills Police Department is not to fuel the speculation or rumours that are circulating right now," Lt Rosen said. "We can't comment on where those rumours have come from."

However, the Los Angeles coroner's office then said there were bottles of prescription medicine in the room, although it did not provide further details.

"There weren't a lot of prescription bottles," said Ed Winter, the coroner's assistant chief. "You probably have just as many prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet."

Houston's body was released to her family late on Monday morning. The body was then flown from Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles area east to New Jersey.

Born in Newark, Whitney Houston began her singing career as a child at the city's New Hope Baptist Church. Her cousin, singer Dionne Warwick, also sang in its choir.

On Monday, mourners left tributes, including flowers, balloons and candles, alongside the church's fence.

Houston's hits included I Will Always Love You and I Have Nothing

"She was an inspiration to everybody,'' said Gregory Hanks, a 26-year-old actor who grew up in the area.

The White House said President Barack Obama offered his condolences.

Press secretary Jay Carney said: "I know that his thoughts and prayers are with her family, especially her daughter.

"It's a tragedy to lose somebody so talented at such a young age."

Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, selling 170 million records worldwide.

But her later career was overshadowed by drug use and a turbulent marriage to singer Bobby Brown.

Houston was found in her hotel room just hours before she was supposed to appear at a gala before the Grammy Awards.