Thursday, December 19, 2013

London's Apollo Theatre's roof collapses - 88 people injured, 7 seriously

London's Apollo Theatre's roof collapses

Simon Usborne describes "a vast, falling curtain of debris"

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Some 88 people are injured, at least seven seriously, after part of a roof in London's Apollo Theatre collapsed during a show, police have said.
The venue in Shaftesbury Avenue was packed for a performance of the Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time.
An eyewitness heard "a crackling" noise before the collapse at about 20:15 GMT. Theatre-goers left covered in debris.
London Ambulance said there were 81 walking wounded but all those who were trapped are said to have been freed.
London Fire Brigade said eight fire engines were attending, and police are also at the scene in London's busy West End theatre district.
The ornate plasterwork ceiling collapsed and brought part of the lighting rig down, it added.
A spokesman said the theatre was almost full with 720 people watching the performance.
The Met Police said more than 40 walking wounded were being treated at the nearby Gielgud Theatre, while a London bus used to transport others injured to hospital.
There were no reports of fatalities.
Injured theatre-goers Eyewitnesses saw theatregoers leave the Apollo in dust and debris
Women bandagedPeople were helped at the scene by emergency services
Bus taking injured to hospitalPolice commandeered a London bus to take the injured to hospital
Fireman stands outside Apollo theatreEmergency workers were at the scene within minutes, theatre-goers said
A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "He has spoken to the Met Police Commissioner and is liaising with the relevant agencies. His thoughts and prayers are with those involved in what is clearly a very serious incident."
Witnesses earlier said they had seen people leaving the building, covered in dust and plaster - with some people bleeding and crying.
'Strange crackling noise'
Amy Lecoz, who was at the theatre with her two children, aged 16 and 19, said: "The entire dome roof fell down on the audience just in front of us.
"We were protected by the balcony above and we ran. People started screaming.
Theatre-goer Lucy Atherton: "The ceiling just fell in"
"We thought it was water... We thought it was a part of the show. I grabbed my kids and ran."
Another witness said she heard a "strange crackling noise" before "the roof just crumpled".
The theatre "suddenly went dark" with "dust clouds everywhere", she said.
"You could see everyone ran off the stage... it went dark".
Martin Bowstock and his family were also in the audience.
He also thought it was part of the show.
Speaking to the BBC News Channel, he added; "All the actors reacted, we saw all the actors looking up above us and pointing, looking horrified and then things started falling and smoke, and I thought it was part of the show until something hit me on the head very hard.
"I thought, that's not quite, that's not quite right, and then everything came down around us and to be quite honest I thought we were all going to be in really, really, really serious trouble and it felt horrific."
Independent journalist, Simon Usborne, was also in the audience.

Apollo theatre

  • The theatre is owned and operated by Nimax Theatres
  • It has 775 seats over four levels
  • Some 480 of the seats are located on the stalls dress and circle levels
  • The stage measures 9.2m x 8.8m
  • Named for the Greek god of the arts and leader of the muses, because it was designed and built as a venue for musical entertainment
  • The Apollo Theatre first opened its doors in February 1901
"Everybody rose instantly and grabbed anything they could and dashed for the door," he said.
"I was very close to the exit, fortunately, with my girlfriend and we got out onto the pavement in, I would say, three seconds. And then people out on the pavement were in a state of shock.
"There were children, it's a family-friendly show, of course, who were crying, there were adults and then people started walking out, covered in dust, head-to-toe, many with blood on their heads and faces."
Witnesses said police and emergency crews were at the scene within minutes.
A 29-year-old audience member, who only gave his name as Ben, said: "It was about halfway through the first half of the show and there was a lot of creaking.
Apollo theatre roof collapseA cordon was set up around the theatre
Apollo theatre roof collapseLondon Fire Brigade said all those trapped had been freed
"We thought it was part of the scene, it was a seaside scene, but then there was a lot of crashing noise and part of the roof caved in.
"There was dust everywhere, everybody's covered in dust. We got out fairly quickly, I think everyone was quite panicked."
Jess Bowie was also in the theatre and said in a tweet that the experience was "absolutely petrifying... people outside are covered in dust and some in blood. Utterly horrible".
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has been running in London since August 2012. The show started at The National Theatre, before transferring to the Apollo in March this year.
The Grade II-listed Apollo was built in 1901 and has 775 seats over four levels. Since 2005 it has been owned and operated by Nimax Theatres, which also runs the Garrick, Duchess and Vaudeville theatres.

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