Apollo theatre collapse: probe launched after dozens injured
Witnesses describe 'chaos and panic' as plaster and masonry plunges from the ceiling into the audience
AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into the collapse of a London theatre ceiling that left around 80 people injured last night.
They were hurt when a large section of ornate plasterwork at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue fell onto the audience during a production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Nearly 60 people were taken to four London hospitals, with seven people said to be seriously injured. The emergency response included 25 ambulance crews, an air ambulance rapid response team, eight fire engines and more than 50 firefighters. Three London buses were also commandeered to take patients to hospital.
The Grade II-listed theatre, built in 1901, had been almost full with 720 people watching the performance. Eyewitnesses described "chaos and panic" as chunks of plaster and masonry fell from the ceiling onto people in the upper circle, the dress circle and the stalls. An 30ft-square area of plasterwork plunged four storeys, a distance of at least 30ft.
One witness reported hearing an actor yell "watch out" to the audience. Others said they thought it was all part of the show before "seeing the look on the ushers' faces". Some audience members were said to be trapped, bleeding and with broken bones.
Investigators are trying to determine how the ceiling came to collapse.
One witness, who had been sitting with his family on row F, told the BBC that he first heard cracking and then looked up to see a big part of the roof coming down. "It was horrific," he said. His son and pregnant daughter-in-law were injured and remain in hospital. "I have cuts and bruises myself, but we believe we have been very lucky. But I am really angry about this too. It was so lucky that someone wasn't killed," he said.
A spokesman for Nimax Theatres, which owns the Apollo, said an investigation was under way and "thoughts are with the audience and staff". ·