More than 75 people, seven seriously, were injured when the ceiling of the Apollo Theatre in London partially collapsed last night (19/12/13). The incident happened around 8:15pm during a packed performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
As around 10 square feet of ornate plaster quickly came down on the stalls below parts of the theatre’s balconies came down with it. Thick dust covered audience members and some were struck by the falling plaster and balconies. More than 700 people were in the theatre at the time with police and fire officials stating most of the injured were “walking wounded” with upper-body injuries but all were conscious and breathing.
Scott Daniels, an American tourist, said of the incident: “About 40 or 45 minutes into the show I started hearing noises and screaming. I thought, maybe this is part of the play. All of a sudden, plaster starts raining down, huge hunks of plaster. The lights went out and everything filled with dust, everybody was coughing and choking.”
The audience were treated by dozens of emergency workers in the street outside the Apollo and at a nearby theatre while city buses were used to transport some of the wounded to hospitals. Shaftesbury Avenue, normally one of London’s busiest streets, was shut down by emergency workers.
The London Ambulance Service said it had treated 76 patients, 58 of whom were taken to hospitals. Of the 58, 51 had suffered minor injuries and seven had suffered “more serious injuries.” There were no fatalities and none of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening. Injuries ranged from head wounds to cuts and scrapes to breathing problems.
The fire department said no one was trapped in the theatre, explaining that rescuers had helped evacuate some theatregoers who had been trapped “by the nature of their injuries” where they had stood when the plastering came down.
Nimax Theatres, which owns the Grade II-listed West End theatre, described the incident as “shocking and upsetting” and said a full investigation into what caused the ceiling collapse is under way. Officials said it was too soon to say what had caused the partial collapse of the ceiling. However, this moring surveyors have said the ceiling is “sound”.