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Nelson Mandela's funeral on December 15, preparations begin

Mandela, South Africa's liberation hero and the first democratically elected president, died early today at his home in Johannesburg after battling a protracted illness. 

Escorted by military motorcycle outriders, a black SUV carried Mandela's coffin, draped in South Africa's flag, to the military hospital's morgue from his home.

Mandela will lie in state at the seat of government the Union Buildings in the capital city of Pretoria.

In a television address to the nation, South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela would be laid to rest on December 15 at Qunu in Eastern Cape province.

Funeral will draw a galaxy of leaders and other dignitaries from across the world. Zuma, who earlier announced the demise of the 95-year-old Nobel laureate, ordered that all flags of the country fly at half-mast and remain that way until after the burial ceremony, the South African Government News Agency reported.

Mandela was almost for three months in hospital this year after being admitted to the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in June with a recurring lung infection. He was discharged in September and was receiving home-based medical care.
 

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