(This post was updated at 6:00 p.m. ET)
London’s emergency services personnel say 88 people have been injured, several of them seriously, in the collapse of part of the ceiling at the Apollo Theatre in central London during an evening performance. Officials say there have been no fatalities.
Emergency services officials tell news agencies that seven of those are seriously hurt. The BBC quotes a spokesman for the theater as saying 720 theatergoers were in attendance at the time of the collapse.
Nick Harding from London Fire Brigade said plaster from an area about “10 meters by 10 meters” (30 feet by 30 feet) fell to the floor of the theater.
The Associated Press reports:
“Police said officers were called at around [8:15 London time] (3:15 p.m. ET) to reports of a ceiling collapse at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue in central London.
“London’s fire department said eight engines are on the scene in the SoHo neighborhood.”
The BBC said the theater was “packed”:
“An eyewitness said she heard ‘a crackling’ noise before the collapse. … Another eyewitness said the ‘entire dome roof’ fell on audience members seated in the stalls.”
The audience was watching The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a play based on the novel by Mark Haddon, at the time of the collapse.
The BBC quotes a 29-year-old audience member, who only gave his name as Ben, as saying: “It was about halfway through the first half of the show, and there was a lot of creaking. … There was dust everywhere, everybody’s covered in dust. We got out fairly quickly; I think everyone was quite panicked,” he said.
Reuters reports that theatergoers were injured by falling masonry. One of its reporters says emergency vehicles have blocked off the street leading to the Apollo.
“I think the front part of the balcony fell down,” Martin Bostock, who was in the audience, told Sky Television. “It was hard to see anything through the dust.”
The Apollo Theatre was built in 1901 and has 775 seats, according to the AP, which adds:
“London was hit by a freak thunderstorm about 7 p.m. that dumped heavy rain on the city, but it wasn’t immediately clear if that was related to the collapse.”