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Safety fears shut Diana fountain


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Queen Elizabeth II opens the memorial to Princess Diana.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Britain's troubled Princess Diana Memorial Fountain has been closed indefinitely after three people slipped on the monument's steps and were taken to hospital.

The water in the £3.6 million ($6.6 million) memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, in London's Hyde Park was switched off Thursday on health and safety grounds.

John Fearn, spokesman for the Royal Parks, told CNN officials were "very concerned" after the accidents.

"We are not going to reopen it until we are completely satisfied it is safe to do so," he said.

Three people -- believed to be to part of the same family -- slipped and fell on steps forming part of the monument Thursday.

Fearn said the cause was being urgently investigated in a "very thorough" inquiry. It was not known whether the design of the fountain or the type of stone used had contributed, he said.

Park officials told the UK's Press Association that one of the three people injured was a young child who received "a bump to the head" resulting in "some bleeding."

The child and two adults were taken to hospital, PA said. They were all discharged by Thursday evening.

It was the latest in a series of blows for the troubled memorial.

Shortly after Queen Elizabeth II opened the fountain two weeks ago, park officials closed it when fallen leaves blocked filters and caused the fountain to flood.

Workers had to shut it off again a few days later -- again when the filters clogged.

Fearn said park officials were meeting Friday with independent health and safety experts and the designers and engineers who built the fountain.

During the past two weeks, tens of thousands of people have visited the memorial, located alongside Hyde Park's Serpentine lake.

On Friday, a safety cordon kept visitors five meters (yards) from the fountain.

The fountain was designed as a large granite ring with water pouring into the structure and running in two directions. The water 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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