Britney Spears was physically removed from her LA home and put on "mental health evaluation hold" yesterday -- the second time in a month -- as the very public breakdown of the pop star continued.
A motorcade the length of a football pitch escorted her ambulance and kept a crowd of media at bay, while a police helicopter hovered overhead to clear airspace.
The operation to remove the 26-year-old mother of two from her home in Beverly Hills -- in a gated community called the Summit -- apparently came after Spears's psychiatrist called the authorities.
"Britney was a threat to herself," an unidentified source told E! Online News yesterday. "She's finally been committed. She has been out of control and not listening to anyone, totally uncontrollable, and was worrying everyone by not taking any medication. She hasn't slept in three days."
Spears's estranged mother, Lynne, and her father, Jamie, were pictured leaving the hospital yesterday morning along with friend Sam Lutfi. Lynne Spears told reporters only that Britney was OK.
The drama has provided yet more material for the paparazzi and reporters that have turned Spears's breakdown into an industry in its own right.
It is thought that the latest trip to hospital comes after an attempted "intervention" on Monday by Spears's parents, to whom she had not spoken for at least a month.
They had been in Los Angeles to see their grandchildren, who live with Kevin Federline, the singer's former husband. Spears was denied custody by a judge.
The intervention has been complicated by the involvement of Lutfi, Spears's close friend and manager, and Adnan Ghalib, her British boyfriend.
This week, Spears was seen leaving Mr Lutfi's car in an apparent rage and then sobbing by the side of the road outside her home, directly in front of photographers.
Later, when Mr Ghalib arrived, it is thought that Mr Lutfi would not allow him into the Summit compound, and Mr Ghalib was unable to contact Spears on her phone.
It is thought that Spears and Mr Lutfi had a confrontation on Wednesday. A Los Angeles Police Department helicopter turned up at the Summit about an hour later and shone a floodlight on the grounds. Later, Spears's mother arrived, followed by an ambulance. A few minutes after that, the ambulance took Ms Spears to the UCLA Medical Centre.
Spears was first hospitalised for two days on January 3 after apparently locking herself in a bathroom in hysterics and refusing to hand back her two sons to representatives of Federline.
Spears's personal life went downhill after she filed for divorce from Federline in November 2006. She was seen out partying without underwear, she shaved her head, attacked paparazzi and spent a month in rehab.
Spears, who has lost custody and visiting rights with her two young sons, was ordered late last year to undergo random drug and alcohol tests by the family court handling her bitter custody dispute with ex-husband Federline. ( © The Times, London)