Ceiling Collapse at London’s Apollo Theatre Injures Dozens

The West End theater, which originally opened in 1901, was packed for an evening performance

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Dominic Lipinski / PA / AP

Emergency services attend the scene at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, central London, Dec. 19, 2013.

Updated at 7:02 p.m. EST
Large sections of the plaster ceiling at London’s Apollo Theatre collapsed Thursday night during a packed evening performance. London Ambulance Services say that that 88 people have been wounded, including seven who were seriously hurt and taken to the hospital in ambulances.

Theatergoers were watching a production of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time when some reported hearing a loud crack as the domed roof crashed down, the BBC reports. 

A police statement said that many of the injured were “walking wounded” and that they were not yet aware of any fatalities. The seven seriously injured people have been taken to local hospitals, and officers are using a London bus to transport anybody who needs further medical assistance.

A theater spokesman said that the performance was sold out, and that around 700 people were inside the historic building, which opened in 1901.

Martin Bowstock was in the crowd and told the BBC he initially thought the sudden blackout and cracking sound were intentional. “All the actors reacted, we saw all the actors looking up above us and pointing, looking horrified and then things started falling and smoke,” he said.  “I thought it was part of the show until something hit me on the head very hard.”

Another audience member, Khalil Anjarwalla, told the Telegraph that he also initially thought the commotion was part of the play. “And then within an instant the entire roof caved in, and you couldn’t see the sky, but at least the first layer of the roof was entirely gone and then dust filled the entire theatre,” he said. “Everyone was just screaming and people were rushing for the exit, clambering over chairs. It was completely horrific.”

This story has been updated to report additional injuries and details about the incident.