An unexpected collapse of the ceiling in a section of a London theater while a performance was going on injured dozens of spectators. In addition, there were many theatergoers trapped under the debris immediately following the collapse of the ceiling at the famed Apollo Theater. Fortunately, they were eventually freed.
One member of the Fire Brigade in London said he had never seen a scene quite like it. According to fire officials, the collapse of a portion of the ceiling in the London Theater also brought down some of the balcony. The same sources said it was too early to determine the cause of the collapse of part of the ceiling. They said that a full investigation would be carried out
According to the London Ambulance service, 76 patients were treated. Out of those 76, there were 58 individuals taken to one of four different medical facilities.
Many in the London Theater had suffered some minor injuries and were said to be walking wounded. Seven had more serious injuries but were not considered life-threatening. The ambulance service reported that there were no fatalities in the accident at the London theater.
Fire and police officials were paged and asked to report to the scene around 8:15 p.m. London time shortly after reports of the theater balcony collapsing began to surface.
The theater is located in London’s West End on Shaftesbury Avenue. At the time of the collapse, the spectators inside were enjoying a presentation of The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-time. The fire department estimated that there were around 720 people inside the building while the performance was taking place. Fire officials said that the place was usually full to capacity during the holiday season.
It was reported that 25 ambulance crews, eight fire engines, and several specialty rescue vehicles were known to have arrived at the location following the accident.
One witness told a British reporter that she heard a noise just before the collapse. Another spectator told a British NBC affiliate that after parts of the ceiling began to fall, a thick cloud of dust blocked some of the stage from view. After that, the witness said that panic ensued which was quickly followed by screaming.
Another witness reported that the collapse of the building occurred about halfway through the performance.
Shaftesbury Avenue is usually one of the busiest streets in London and is lined with pedestrians. However, following the accident, emergency workers had to completely shut down the area.
The Apollo Theater first opened for business in early 1901. It is a structure with a total of 775 seats and is split on four different levels.
The performance on Thursday at the time of the collapse was based on a top selling mystery novel written by author Mark Haddon.
David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister issued a statement offering praise to the emergency services of London for their rapid carrying out of their responsibilities in helping the wounded from the incident. Emergency crews were on the scene approximately three minutes after being paged.
Boris Johnson, mayor of London, also showed gratitude to the emergency personnel of his city. He said they gave a very amazing response in a very adverse and difficult situation and were particular in their treatment of the injuries occurred by dozens inside the London theater.
By Rick Hope