Investigation into Apollo Theatre roof collapse begins

An investigation has begun into what caused the roof of a London theatre to collapse, injuring 76 people.

Police were called just after 8.15pm on Thursday night as rubble began falling from the ceiling of the Grade-II-listed Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue around 45 minutes into the performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

About 720 people were watching the show as large pieces of plaster broke off the ceiling, falling on audience members and taking part of the theatre’s balconies with them.

Injured woman Apollo Theatre

An injured woman is taken to hospital

The panicked audience was ushered out of the theatre, with 76 people treated by the London Ambulance Service and 58 of those taken to hospital. Police commandeered three buses to transport patients to the hospital, while those with minor injuries were treated by paramedics in the foyer of the neighbouring Gielgud Theatre.

Emergency services at Apollo Theatre

Emergency services attending the scene gather outside the nearby Queen’s Theatre

Seven people suffered major injuries but there were no fatalities.

Eyewitnesses said they heard loud creaks coming from the ceiling of the theatre but at first thought it was part of the show. Those sitting on the upper balcony reported seeing other audience members pointing at the ceiling before debris began to fall.

The actors appeared to run from the stage after seeing what was happening, according to reports.

Martin Bostock, who was in the audience with his family, said he suffered a head injury after he was hit by falling debris.

He told Sky News: “I was in the lower stalls with my family in the early stages of the show. It was just terrifying and awful. I think the front part of the balcony fell down. At first we thought it was part of the show. Then I got hit on the head.

“It was complete chaos in the theatre. Absolutely terrifying and awful. We got out with cuts and bruises. I think most people did.”

Crane outside Apollo theatre

A crane is used to inspect the Apollo Theatre roof

The outside of the theatre looked completely unscathed and was checked for safety during the night by a district surveyor from Westminster City Council who carried out a structural assessment of the building. Preliminary findings are expected this morning, the BBC said.

The Society of London Theatre, which represents producers, theatre owners and managers, said: “Every theatre undergoes rigorous safety checks and inspections by independent experts. The major theatre owners have confirmed that their safety inspections and certificates are up-to-date and will cooperate fully with the authorities to reassure the public that their theatres are safe.”

 

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