Criminal Investigation Into Madonna Stage Collapse Begins

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French prosecutors have launched a manslaughter investigation into the stage collapse that killed two and injured dozens in Marseille this week, the U.K.'s Times Online reports. Workers were building the stage for Madonna's July 19th Sticky & Sweet show when a crane gave way, causing a crush of rubble that claimed the lives of Charles Criscenzo of France and Charles Prow, from England. The concert, which would have been attended by 40,000, has been canceled and Madonna issued a teary statement from the stage in Italy last night.

TMZ reports that the company responsible for constructing Madonna's stage in Marseille is the same team that built her stage at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium, which also collapsed in November 2008. A representative for the company, E S Group, issued a statement that reads:

 

"We were incredibly saddened by the tragic accident during the construction of a stage at the Velodrome at Marseille. Our thoughts at this current time go out to the families and loved ones of the two men who died and to those who have been injured.

 

Two of our Directors have flown out to Marseille to visit the injured and to get a better understanding of what caused the accident. At present, it would not be appropriate to speculate on potential causes of the accident, but we are working closely with the French authorities to investigate what caused this incident. This is normal practice for such an incident and we will provide a further update as soon as it is possible.

There is absolutely no technical or other connection between the incident at the Dodgers Stadium in November 2008 and the tragic accident yesterday (July 16 2009) at the Velodrome in Marseille."

 

The Times Online reports that investigators will be interviewing witnesses and reviewing video and contracts to help determine whether safety procedures were followed during the stage's construction. The accident happened while the top of the stage was being lifted by four cranes.