Ceiling collapsed at the London Apollo Theatre – a landmark tourism spot in Central London
After a nightclub collapsed, it's now the Apollo theatre in London frequented by locals and tourists.
After a nightclub collapsed, it’s now the Apollo theatre in London frequented by locals and tourists. A large section of ornate plasterwork at the Apollo fell on to the audience during a production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed West End theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue in the Borough of Westminster, in central London. Designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfeld, it became the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed on the street after opening its doors on 21 February 1901 with the American musical comedy The Belle of Bohemia.
Investigators are trying to establish what caused part of a ceiling to collapse at a London theatre injuring 76 people, seven of them seriously.
A large section of ornate plasterwork at the Apollo fell on to the audience during a production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
Some reports suggested water began dripping through cracks in the ceiling before it came down.
The theatre’s owner described the incident as “shocking and upsetting”.
The BBC reports:
‘It was horrific’
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham Ellis, of the London Fire Brigade, said the plasterwork had fallen on to the upper circle, the dress circle and the stalls.
The BBC’s Tim Muffett was filming a different story with the London Ambulance Service when they were called to help treat the injured
He said: “The injuries to the casualties that our colleagues have spoken about are consistent with that.
“We’ve manage to stabilise the situation inside the theatre, we’re working closely with colleagues at Westminster City Council, their building surveyors.
“The scene has now been sterilized, nobody is going in there and investigations have started.”
The theatre had been almost full with 720 people watching the performance. Of the 76 injured, 58 were taken to four London hospitals but there were no life-threatening injuries.
Woman bandaged at Apollo Theatre after ceiling collapse
Witnesses said police and emergency crews were at the scene within minutes
Fire brigade aerial ladder at theatre
Firecrews used an aerial ladder platform to inspect the theatre roof
Inside Apollo Theatre after collapse
The theatre had been almost full with 720 people watching the performance
Theatre-goers left the venue in Shaftesbury Avenue covered in debris after the collapse at about 20:15 GMT on Thursday.
Chris Edwards’ son and daughter-in-law were injured and remained in hospital.
Mr Edwards said: “I was in seat F3 with my family all around me when part of the roof fell in right on top of us.
“I first heard cracking, then looked up to see a big part of the roof coming down. It was horrific.
“Larger pieces hit my younger son and he’s still in hospital with a broken collar bone and suspected damage to his spine.
“I tried to cover my daughter-in-law, who is pregnant, to protect her but some of the debris fell on her back. Thankfully she and the baby are safe.
Eyewitness Khalil Anjarwalla: “Everyone was screaming”
“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.”
Dermot Cavanagh, who was sitting in the balcony, said he realised something was wrong when people started moving a few rows in front of him.
“The whole row stood up and there were suppressed murmurs and shrieks and shortly after that there was this large ornate ceiling rose with a chandelier in the middle just came down and a huge brownish grey cloud of dust came up from the stalls.”
Nell Cardozo, who was in the audience, said: “Somebody just shouted ‘everybody get out’, there was no time to stop and we looked up at the ceiling, the whole bit of plaster had just fallen in.”
‘Swift and effective’
The emergency response included 25 ambulance crews, an air ambulance rapid response team, eight fire engines and more than 50 firefighters. Police were also in attendance.
Three London buses were also commandeered to take patients to hospital.
Witnesses said the emergency services were at the scene within minutes.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust said 34 adults and five children were being treated at the accident and emergency department at St Thomas’ Hospital.
The majority had cuts and bruises, and a small number had fractures. The three most serious cases had injuries to the neck and back, or head.
The trust said at this stage there were no life-threatening injuries.
A spokesman for Nimax Theatres, which owns the Apollo, said said an investigation was under way and “thoughts are with the audience and staff”.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “I’ve been updated regularly on the Apollo incident. I’m grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured.”
A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “He has spoken to the Met Police Commissioner and is liaising with the relevant agencies. His thoughts and prayers are with those involved in what is clearly a very serious incident.”
Mark Haddon, author of the book on which the play is based, tweeted: “It’s been horrifying sitting here watching what has been happening at the Apollo this evening. I’m hugely relieved that no-one has died.
“I hope that those who were seriously injured are OK. I’m sorry, too, that so many people went through such a terrifying experience.”
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has been running in London since August 2012. The show started at the National Theatre, before transferring to the Apollo in March this year.
The Grade II-listed Apollo was built in 1901 and has 775 seats over four levels. Since 2005 it has been owned and operated by Nimax Theatres, which also runs the Garrick, Duchess and Vaudeville theatres.