<i>World in mourning</i>
Michael Jackson's cause of death will not be confirmed for several weeks, officials said Friday, as attention turned to the possible involvement of drugs in the tragic King of Pop's demise.
As a global outpouring of tributes to the tortured icon showed no sign of abating, Los Angeles coroners began the task of trying to determine what caused the 50-year-old star to collapse and die at his home Thursday, AFP reports.
After an autopsy lasting several hours, Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey told reporters that examiners had found no evidence of "external trauma or foul play" on Jackson's body. His body was released.
However, Harvey said a cause of death had been deferred until the results of exhaustive toxicology tests were known.
"Those tests, we anticipate, will take proximately four to six additional weeks to complete," Harvey said.
"At that time, once those test results have been completed, we anticipate being able to close the case and issue a final cause of death."
Jackson lawyer Brian Oxman said he and family members voiced concerns over the star's use of drugs as he prepared for a gruelling series of comeback concerts in London designed to re-launch his career.
"I know Michael was rehearsing and working extremely hard to get in shape in order to perform in London," Oxman told ABC television's Good Morning America. New age guru and Jackson confidante Deepak Chopra-- a qualified cardiologist--told CNN bluntly, "I think drugs killed him."
Jackson's former producer Tarak Ben Ammar said, "It is clear that the criminals in this affair are the doctors who treated him throughout his career, who destroyed his face, who gave him medicine to ease his pain."
Celebrity website TMZ.com, which broke the news of Jackson's death, reported Friday that the star had been injected with his daily dose of Demerol, a painkiller, at 11:30am, about an hour before he lost consciousness.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said investigators spoke with Jackson' doctor Conrad Robert Murray briefly Thursday, but deputy chief Charlie Beck said police wanted to interview him again.
TMZ.com reported that the doctors BMW was towed away and police were looking for him. It claimed that the live-in doctor had sent several letters to his patients 11 days ago informing them that he would be unavailable for some time.
The website also reported that the Jackson family members met policemen to know about "the circumstances surrounding Michael's death."
Meanwhile, there were reports that there could be a long battle for the custody of Michael Jackson's children Paris and Michael Jr between his second wife Debbie Row and the Jackson family.
A tape of the 911 call from Jackson's home was released Friday in which a caller could be heard telling an operator that repeated attempts to revive Jackson had been unsuccessful.
The caller also said Jackson's personal physician had been the only witness to the singer's collapse. "(The doctor) is pumping the chest but he's not responding to anything, sir, please," the caller is heard saying.
Jackson's family, including the star's three young children, were reportedly huddled at an estate in the northern Los Angeles suburb of Encino.
Meanwhile there were tributes from Jackson's close friend Elizabeth Taylor and a spokesman for US President Barack Obama.
"My heart... my mind... are broken," Taylor said in a statement. "I loved Michael with all my soul and I can't imagine life without him... I still can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. It can't be so."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday the US leader regarded Jackson as an icon but thought aspects of his life were sad and tragic.
"The president... said that he had aspects of his life that were sad and tragic, his condolences went out to the Jackson family and fans that mourned his loss," Gibbs said.
Fans staged gatherings across the world, including 10,000 Danish fans who crammed into a square in Copenhagen for a three-hour tribute concert.
On the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, thousands of fans queued for hours in boiling sunshine for the right to file past Jackson's star set into the sidewalk.
Jackson's death led to a stampede on the Internet as fans scoured the web for latest updates on the story.
Yahoo! News "set an all-time record in unique visitors with 16.4 million people, surpassing our previous record of 15.1 million visitors on US election day," it said.