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Now Diana fountain runs dry


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LONDON, England -- Britain's troubled Princess Diana Memorial Fountain suffered another hiccup less than a week after it caused flooding -- this time running dry.

Officials said the water flow was stopped Tuesday due to a pump blocked by fallen leaves -- the same cause of flooding shortly after the £3.6 million ($6.6 million) fountain opened eight days ago.

But although bad weather was blamed, this time the sun was shining in London.

"There's one thing wrong with this after another," Beryl Entwistle, 63, told Britain's Daily Mail. "We'll be calling this the dry fountain next."

The controversial water sculpture ran dry after the water was turned off for routine cleaning.

The blockage was thought to be caused by leaves which got into the pump before filters were fitted.

Theo Moore, spokesman for the Royal Parks which maintains the central London attraction, said some sections of the water feature ran dry while work was carried out.

"It only took about two hours. We solved the problem and we don't anticipate it happening again," he told the UK's Press Association.

In future the fountain will be switched off on either a weekly or fortnightly basis while early morning cleaning work is carried out, Moore said.

Several thousand people have visited the memorial, located in London's Hyde Park alongside the Serpentine lake since it was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II last week.

The fountain consists of a large granite ring with water pouring into the structure and running in two directions. It passes over a variety of features, including air bubbles, steps and curves, before meeting at the end in a reflecting pool.

The memorial -- by American landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson -- has been called chic and dignified by some of Diana's friends, although others have criticized it as looking like a storm drain or being too understated for a memorial to a princess.

Organizers have battled with red tape and squabbled over the most fitting tribute.

The project overran its budget by £600,000 ($1.1 million), and delays forced planners to abandon the original August 2003 opening date -- which would have marked the sixth anniversary of the princess's death.

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Gustafson's memorial has been beset by squabbles and rising costs.

The committee set up to oversee the project could not agree on a design, and the government stepped in to approve Gustafson's plan.

At one point, Diana's friend Rosa Monckton, who headed the committee, described the situation as a "fiasco."

Mohamed al Fayed, whose son Dodi died with Diana in her Paris car crash in 1997, said the memorial resembled "a sewage works."

In her speech opening the memorial, the queen acknowledged that creating the memorial had been "no easy task" and congratulated the designers and builders for their work.

"I think Diana would have enjoyed it, and I believe she would want all of us to do so too," the queen said.


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