1. Updated — 5:55 a.m. ET
2. A portion of the ceiling collapsed Thursday night at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End during the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, trapping and injuring several theatergoers.
3. The collapse involved “plaster and some beams from roof,” a fire spokesman said at a press conference following the rescue operation.
4. The roof before the collapse:
5. London Ambulance tweeted that 88 people were treated, including seven “seriously injured patients.” The collapse happened around 8:15 p.m., local time. According to London Fire Brigade, all those trapped were freed by 9:20.
In a statement, Nick Harding of the London Fire Brigade said about 720 people were in the theater at the time of the collapse.
“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 … 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.”
8. Watch witnesses interviewed after the collapse:
Witness Simon Usborne, a writer at The Independent, told Sky News he believed a portion of the audience was “showered with debris.” He’s since tweeted more observations from the collapse, collected here:
“Back home after Apollo theatre collapse. Terrifying. Sheltered in stalls by upper circle. Loud bangs, cracks. Thought was part of show… then whole interior of theatre filled with curtain of dark grey dust and debris, falling on heads of anyone not sheltered…immediately got up with girlfriend and dashed to the near exit and the street. Screaming, dust. People emerging soon after bloodied… children crying – family show – people dumbfounded. Went back into foyer after 5 mins to see people sitting, lying, waiting for treatment …mainly head injuries and breathing issues due to dust. One woman said large, foot-long chuck of plaster fell on head. Was bleeding…. looks as if no deaths but was genuine fear of the worst on the pavement outside.”
11. One audience member told CBS News that she thought the “creaking” before the collapse was a planned sound effect. Another tweeted that she initially thought the theater had been bombed.
12. “We saw the roof come down — we were in stalls, lots of dust, we got away over the stage,” a theatergoer told BuzzFeed’s Jim Waterson. “Pretty scary, we’re in shock.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said he’s been updated on the incident and is “grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured.”
Curious Incident actor Matt Tait tweeted that “[cast], crew and stage management all safe. Thoughts are with all the audience. Horrific and unbelievable.” Mark Haddon, who wrote the book the play is based on, also shared his condolences: “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…”
The theater, which opened in 1901, has four levels. Earlier reports indicated it was the balcony that collapsed rather than the roof.
14. Authorities are carrying out a structural assessment at the Apollo Theatre.
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