London : At least 76 people were injured, seven of them seriously, when the ceiling of a 112-year-old theatre in the heart of London collapsed on Thursday night, leaving children and adults bleeding in the rubble amid scenes of chaos and panic. An investigation is under way into the cause of collapse.
Apollo Theatre, one of the popular venues in West End theatre district, was packed with about 720 people for a show of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, when plaster and masonry from a section of the ceiling fell with a crackling sound and left many wounded, including some with head injuries.
Paramedics initially said 88 people were injured but later revised the number to 76, seven of whom were seriously wounded. Another 51 “walking wounded” were taken to hospital with minor injuries. London Ambulance today said all those who had been trapped inside were freed. It was later confirmed that none of them had life-threatening injuries. Some 25 ambulance crews and an air ambulance attended the scene.
Some reports suggested that water began dripping through cracks in the ceiling before it came down. There had been suggestions that the collapse may have been caused by a freak lightning strike, but London Fire Brigade said it had no records on its internal log of lightning. London was hit by a freak thunderstorm last evening, which seems to have resulted in the incident at the building but the exact cause of the collapse is yet to be confirmed.
“There is no suggestion at this stage that this was as a result of a criminal act, however, at this stage we of course are keeping an open mind. Police are in liaison with Westminster City Council and structural engineers to establish how safe the building is before a full assessment can be carried out,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham Ellis of the London Fire Brigade said the plasterwork had fallen onto the upper circle, the dress circle and the stalls.