One killed in Madonna concert stage collapse


June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 16, 2009 at 3:11 PM EDT

One person was killed and several injured Thursday in the collapse of a stage being set up for a Madonna gig in the French city of Marseille, forcing the cancellation of the giant concert.

"I am devastated to have just received this tragic news," Madonna said in a statement released by organisers of the concert.

"My prayers go out to those who were injured and their families along with my deepest sympathy to all those affected by this heartbreaking news."

Nine people were hurt in the accident, including an American and a Briton who were taken to hospital with serious injuries, firefighters said. The person killed was a 53-year-old French citizen, according to firefighters.

The pop star was in Udine, Italy, at the time of the accident and was given the news as she finished her soundcheck on a different stage at the Stadio Friuli, the statement said.

Others injured included three people from France and one person from the Comoros islands, as well as three others whose nationalities were not confirmed, they said.

The accident occurred at the 60,000-seater Stade Velodrome, France's second biggest sports arena and home to the Olympique de Marseille football club.

The deputy mayor of Marseille, Jose Allegrini, said the American pop star's concert, planned for Sunday, had been cancelled.

Firefighters, a dozen ambulances and rescue teams with sniffer dogs were called to the scene after the accident late Thursday afternoon.

City sports official Richard Miron said some 50 technicians from a range of nationalities were working to set up the structure. Up to a dozen people were underneath the stage when it collapsed, emergency services said.

Firefighters said the accident occurred when the roof of the stage became unbalanced as it was being lifted by four cranes, toppling one of the cranes which fell crashing onto the structure below.

"There were a lot of open fractures, of injuries, it was a messy sight," said one of the rescue workers.

The singer, who turns 51 next month, was scheduled to perform in the Mediterranean stadium Sunday after playing to a crowd of 15,000 in Paris last week, the latest stops in her almost year-long "Sticky and Sweet" world tour.

Tickets for Madonna's Paris and Marseille gigs were discounted last month to boost sales, amid signs organisers were struggling to fill the huge venues.

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