Over 80 hurt in London theatre ceiling collapse
Apollo Theatre, one of the popular venues in the city’s West End theatre district, was packed with audience for yesterday’s evening show, when eyewitnesses reported hearing a “crackling” sound
Apollo Theatre, one of the popular venues in the city’s West End theatre district, was packed with audience for yesterday’s evening show of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, when eyewitnesses reported hearing a “crackling” sound.
Ambulance service said there were 81 “walking wounded” and that all those who had been trapped inside were freed. Some 25 ambulance crews and an air ambulance attended the scene, it added.
The Fire Brigade said four people were seriously injured but none have life-threatening injuries and its “search is now complete” with the theatre being sealed off.
“A section of the theatre’s ceiling collapsed onto the audience who were watching the show. The ceiling took parts of the balconies down with it,” said Kingsland Fire Brigade station manager Nick Harding.
“Firefighters worked really hard in very difficult conditions and I’d like to pay tribute to them. They rescued people from the theatre, made the area safe and then helped ambulance crews with the injured. In my time as a fire officer, I’ve never seen an incident like this.”
“I imagine lots of people were out enjoying the show in the run-up to Christmas. My thoughts go out to all those affected,” he added.
The historic theatre, named after the Greek and Roman god of the arts, opened in 1901. It seats 755 on four levels and the balcony on the third tier is considered the steepest in London.
Martin Bostock, who was in the theatre, told ‘Sky News’, “I was in the stalls with my family in the early stages of the show. I think the front part of the balcony fell down. At first we thought it was part of the show, it was very dramatic.”
“We got out with cuts and bruises, I think most people did.”
An Indian-origin theatre-goer Khalil Anjarwalla told the BBC that his heavily pregnant wife and her parents managed to escape from the theatre safely after “kilos of concrete plummeted from the ceiling.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “I’ve been updated regularly on the Apollo incident. I’m grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured.”
The play, based on the novel of the same name by Mark Haddon, has been running to packed audiences in London since August 2012.
The show started at The National Theatre, before transferring to the Apollo in March this year.
London Fire Brigade said it sent eight fire engines and three fire and rescue units to the scene with a total of about 60 firefighters.
The Scotland Yard said many of the wounded were treated at the nearby Gielgud Theatre, while three London buses were used to transport others to hospitals.
London was hit by a freak thunderstorm yesterday evening, which seems to have resulted in the incident at the building but the exact cause of the collapse is yet to be confirmed.
“There is no suggestion at this stage that this was as a result of a criminal act, however, at this stage we of course are keeping an open mind. Police are in liaison with Westminster City Council and structural engineers to establish how safe the building is before a full assessment can be carried out,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.