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76 people injured as Apollo Theatre's roof collapses mid-performance

Story by Jack Foley

SEVENTY six people were injured when part of the ceiling at London’s Apollo Theatre collapsed on top of them during a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

About 10 sq metres of ornate plasterwork fell on to the audience during the evening performance on Thursday, December 19, 2013, severely injuring 58 people who required hospital attention. But none of the injuries were deemed life-threatening.

The cause of the collapse is not yet known and an inquiry is now underway but there was a thunderstorm and a heavy rain burst that evening with a high number of lightning strikes across the capital.

Eyewitnesses heard “a crackling” noise before the collapse at about 8.15pm (GMT).

Speaking on the night, 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. A total of 720 people had been watching the performance, which is currently playing to sell out crowds following his award-winning success at the Oliviers.

He said: “The injuries to the casualties that our colleagues have spoken about are consistent with that.”

The emergency response included 25 ambulance crews, an air ambulance rapid response team, eight fire engines and more than 50 firefighters, as well as members of the police.

Three London buses were also commandeered to take patients to hospital.

A spokesman for Nimax Theatres, which owns the Apollo, said an investigation is under way and “thoughts are with the audience and staff”.

Westminster City Council is expected to report later on a structural assessment of the Shaftesbury Avenue venue.

A statement from the Society of London Theatre said all the major theatre owners had confirmed their safety inspections and certificates were up to date and all other London theatres remain open for business.

Another statement from the National Theatre regarding forthcoming performances of The Curious Incident said: “Performances of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time today and tomorrow, Friday, December 20 and Saturday (21), have been cancelled and ticket-holders will be contacted by whichever box office or ticket agency they booked through to arrange exchanges or refunds.

“As soon as we have more news about future performances, this information will be updated and ticket-holders contacted.”

Theatre-land shocked by roof collapse