Over 80 injured in Apollo Theatre in London after partial collapse (updated)

apollo

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The Apollo Theatre in central London was damaged in a partial collapse on Dec. 19, 2013, injuring an unknown number of theater-goers.

Apollo Theatre

Apollo Theatre

Screenshot of the website of the Apollo Theatre in London.


Update 2:30 p.m.

The roof or ceiling of a London theatre partially collapsed Thursday night, showering a packed audience of about 700 with heaps of plaster, wood and dust, authorities and witnesses said. More than 80 people were injured, including at least seven seriously, and several trapped theater-goers had to be rescued.

The collapse happened at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue at 8:15 p.m. (2015 GMT; 3:15 p.m.) during a performance of "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime" at the height of the Christmas holiday season.

"Complete chaos" erupted in the theater as the debris rained down, said Martin Bostock, who came with his family to see the show, which is based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon.

"At first we thought it was part of the show," he told Sky News. "Then I got hit on the head."

Witnesses said audience members were screaming "Get out! Get out!" as they fled the theater and were shaking with fear when they reached the street outside.

"Within an instant, the entire roof caved in," another man told the BBC.

A passing public double-decker bus was commandeered to transport some of the injured to a hospital.

Police said they weren't aware of any fatalities "at this early stage," and that those who were seriously injured had been taken to hospitals following the collapse.

Dozens of "walking wounded" were treated at a nearby theater, police said, while the fire department reported that all those who had been trapped in the Apollo have been rescued. More than two dozen ambulances and eight fire trucks were sent to the scene. Shaftesbury Avenue, normally one of London's busiest streets and teeming with pedestrians, was completely shut down.

London was hit by a strong thunderstorm about 7 p.m. (1900 GMT; 2 p.m. EST) that dumped heavy rain on the city, but it wasn't immediately clear if that was related to the collapse.

The Apollo Theatre, named for the Greek and Roman god Apollo, god of music and the arts, was built in 1901 and has 775 seats. The London fire department said it thought around 700 people were in the theater at the time.

On its website, the theatre warned that its balcony was one of the steepest in London "so avoid if you have trouble with heights."

—Cassandra Vinograd and Jill Lawless,  AP

The London Fire Brigade said that eight fire engines and specialist rescue vehicles were called to the scene, and more than 50 firefighters were working with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service to aid the injured.

On the brigade's official website,  it posted more information about the incident:

Kingsland Station Manager Nick Harding is at the scene of the theatre incident. He said:

“We believe around 720 people were in the theatre at the time. 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.

“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.

“Specialist urban search and rescue crews were also called to the scene to make sure no one was trapped. Fortunately all those who were trapped have been rescued and treated for injuries or taken to hospital.

“A number of people were injured and ambulance crews are working hard to look after them. The latest information is that there were around 80 walking wounded, many of whom had head injuries. Around five have been taken to hospital with more serious injuries.

Update 1:44 p.m.: London authorities say between 20 and 40 people have been injured at a theater that partially collapsed during a packed performance of a show during the height of the Christmas season.

The London Fire Brigade said that all casualties who were trapped in the Apollo Theatre have been freed.

It wasn't immediately clear if the roof, ceiling or balcony collapsed at the theater during a performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" on Thursday evening.

The fire brigade believes around 700 people were in the theater at the time. It added that special search and rescue teams remain on the scene, along with ambulances and police.

Tweet from London Fire Brigade

Tweet from London Fire Brigade

Previously: A theater in central London collapsed during a performance at the height of the Christmas season, with police saying there were "a number" of casualties.

It wasn't immediately clear if the roof, ceiling or balcony collapsed at the Apollo Theatre during a performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime."

Police said officers were called at around 2015 GMT (12:15 p.m. PST) to reports of a ceiling collapse at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue in central London. It said police "are aware of a number of casualties," but had no further details.

Tweet from London's Metropolitan Police Service

London's fire department said eight engines are on the scene in the SoHo neighborhood, and the city's ambulance service said it had sent "a number" of crews to the theater.

Martin Bostock was in the audience with his family and said "complete chaos" erupted in the theater.

"At first we thought it was part of the show," he told Sky News. "Then I got hit on the head."

The Apollo Theatre — named for the Greek and Roman god Apollo, god of music and the arts — was built in 1901 and has 775 seats.

London was hit by a freak thunderstorm about 7 p.m. that dumped heavy rain on the city, but it wasn't immediately clear if that was related to the collapse.

On its website, the theatre warned that its balcony was one of the steepest of the in London "so avoid if you have trouble with heights."

Witnesses told British media that the theater in London's famous West End was packed during the holiday season to see "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime," which is based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon.

"We thought it was part of the show, until something hit me on the head very hard," one man told the BBC, speaking from the foyer of the theater while he was being evaluated by emergency workers. "I thought we were all going to be in really, really serious trouble."

"Within an instant, the entire roof caved in," another witness told the BBC.

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