Thursday, December 19, 2013

30 wounded as London theatre ceiling collapses

The ceiling of a top London theatre collapsed on the audience during a
performance Thursday, leaving terrified theatregoers covered in blood
and dust and causing at least 65 casualties, emergency services and
witnesses said.
The incident happened at the Apollo Theatre during the West End show
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time", and comes during
the week before Christmas when London's theatres are traditionally
Hundreds of emergency workers rushed to the scene after the collapse
but firefighters said all those trapped had been freed.
"We were called to the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue to reports
of a ceiling collapse during a performance. We are aware of a number
of casualties," the Scotland Yard spokesman told AFP.
Five people were seriously injured and taken to hospital in central
London, police said. They said they were not aware of any fatalities.
"We have 65 casualties at this point including walking wounded. We are
trying to get further information on hospitalisations," a London
Ambulance Service spokeswoman told AFP.
AFPTV reporters saw at least one person being stretchered away from
the scene. Others, including some with bandages on their heads, were
being treated in the lobby of a nearby theatre.
Emergency services said they had reports that the collapse involved
part of a balcony.
Pictures on social media showed people fleeing the theatre with head
injuries and covered in dust.
Audience members said they had heard creaking during the performance.
Simon Usborne, a writer for the Independent newspaper, said there was
a "cloud" of dust obscuring the stage after parts of masonry appeared
to fall away.
"There was panic, there was screaming," he said.
Martin Bostock said he suffered a head injury after he was hit by
falling debris.
"It was complete chaos in the theatre. Absolutely terrifying and
awful," he told Britain's Sky News.
"I was in the lower stalls with my family in the early stages of the show.
"I think the front part of the balcony fell down. At first we thought
it was part of the show.
"Then I got hit on the head.
"We got out with cuts and bruises. I think most people did."

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