More tests needed to determine cause of Jackson death

Further tests will be needed to determine whether prescription drugs played any role in Michael Jackson’s death, coroner’s officials said today.

Further tests will be needed to determine whether prescription drugs played any role in Michael Jackson’s death, coroner’s officials said today.

As the world mourned the passing of the 50-year-old “King of Pop”, police and coroner’s officials focused their investigations on the role prescription drugs may have played.

The results of the post-mortem examination were deferred, possibly for between four and six weeks, and attention turned to Jackson’s doctor, who was with him when he fell ill.

Dr Conrad Murray, a cardiologist who practices in California, Nevada and Texas, will now be questioned further by detectives and his car was seized from outside Jackson’s house in case it contained drugs or other evidence.

Charlie Beck, assistant police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, said it was “way too early” to draw any conclusions about the singer’s death.

He said officers spoke to Dr Murray immediately after Jackson’s death but now wanted to carry out “an extensive follow-up interview”.

Craig Harvey, operations chief of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, said there was no evidence of foul play or trauma on the superstar’s body but further tests were needed.

He said he could not comment on any specific drugs which Jackson may have been prescribed, but added: “We know he was taking some prescription medications.”

He said: “There was no indication of any external trauma or any indication of foul play on the body of Mr Jackson.”

The post-mortem examination took about three hours and Jackson’s body is now available to be released to his family, he said.

Later, a source close to the investigation said Jackson appeared to have suffered a heart attack.

A heart attack would not rule out drugs playing a role in his death, but could also indicate a long-term problem such as heart disease.

Jackson, described by many as a misunderstood “genius” and one of the greatest performers of all time, died suddenly on Thursday night, sending the world into mourning.

Among those leading the tributes to Jackson was his close friend Dame Elizabeth Taylor who said: “My heart... my mind... are broken.

“I loved Michael with all my soul and I can’t imagine life without him.”

Sir Paul McCartney, a musical collaborator, recalled “the massively talented boy man with a gentle soul”.

Madonna – who was born less than a fortnight before Jackson – said: “The world has lost one of its greats but his music will live on forever.”

Bee Gee Robin Gibb described the late star as a “wonderful, sensitive human being”.

Jackson’s first wife, Lisa Marie Presley, wrote on her MySpace blog that she had been hit by “unstoppable tears” and added: “A predicted ending by him, by loved ones and by me, but what I didn’t predict was how much it was going to hurt when it finally happened.”

Jackson, who had a history of health problems, had been due to stage 50 concerts at the O2 Arena in London, beginning on July 13.

Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live which was organising the concerts, described Jackson as “both weak and strong, clever and kind, talented beyond belief and equally insecure”.

It was unclear last night whether all of Jackson’s fans, who have bought tickets at £50-£75 (€59-€88) for the £20m (€23.4m) show, will be reimbursed.

A giant screen showing a photograph of the singer was on display outside the arena.

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