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apollo theatre

Investigation begins into cause of ceiling collapse at theatre

The author of the book on which the play at the theatre was based has said he is sorry “that so many people went through such a terrifying experience”.

INVESTIGATIONS HAVE BEGUN into the collapse of a ceiling at London theatre.

The incident at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue took place last night during a show of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

imageEmergency services attending the scene at the Apollo Theatre. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

This morning, investigators will begin their work in trying to determine what led to the collapse at 8pm last night.

The author of the book on which the play is based, Mark Haddon, tweeted:


Grhaam Ellis of London Fire Brigade said there had been a collapse of heavy plaster from the roof of the auditorium fallen down to the upper circle, dress circle and stalls.

Three hospitals were put on standby and buses were used to take injured from the theatre to the hospital.

There were no fatalities during the incident, but almost 80 people were treated by ambulance staff.

imagePic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Paramedics initially said 88 people were wounded but later revised the number downwards to 76. Seven were seriously injured, another 51 “walking wounded” were taken to hospital with minor injuries and the rest were treated at the scene.

“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,” senior firefighter Nick Harding told reporters.

“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.”

Witnesses told of terror inside the Edwardian-era theatre, which has three tiers of balconies, the uppermost of which is said to be the steepest in London.

People were crying in shock and coughing because of the dust as they fled to safety.

Desmond Thomas, 18, part of a school party watching the show, said they heard noises before the accident.

“Maybe 10 minutes into the performance we heard a tap-tap noise, we thought it was rain,” he told AFP.

There was a crack and then it suddenly seemed to get bigger and suddenly it collapsed. The next thing we knew the whole theatre filled with dust and smoke.

Sky News says this morning that structural engineers and a district surveyor from Westminster City Council will carry out a structural assessment of the 112-year-old building today.

It is not believed the ceiling collapse was due to any criminal act.

- Additional reporting AFP

Read: 88 injured after roof collapses at London theatre>

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