Did lightning cause London Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse?

Emergency services said nearly 90 people were injured when part of the ceiling collapsed during a performance at a packed London theatre, bringing the city`s West End entertainment district to a standstill.

Zee Media Bueau

London: Investigators have started a probe into the ceiling collapse at Apollo Theater on Shaftesbury Avenue, which is said to have injured dozens of people. According to emergency services, 76 were injured, out of which seven were seriously hurt.

All those trapped have been freed and the theatre has now been declared secure after a structural assessment, reports said.

A district surveyor said that he had examined the roof of the theatre and ruled out he possibilities of any further collapse.

The incident took place on Thursday night at 8:15 pm when a chunk of the ornate plasterwork of the ceiling fell down at the people who were watching “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time”.

“A section of the theatre’s ceiling collapsed onto the audience who were watching the show. The ceiling took parts of the balconies down with it,” said Nick Harding from London Fire Brigade.

At the time of the collapse, 720 people were said to be in the theatre which has 775 seats distributed over four tiers.

The ceiling parts came down with a crackling sound, which many thought was a part of the show they were watching.

But soon more debris fell on the spectators, creating chaos and panic as people recieved injuries to their heads, cuts and bruises.

The emergency services arrived at the scene within minutes of the collapse and have earned praise by PM David Cameron who tweeted that he was grateful for the fast response by the emergency team.

Over 25 ambulance crews, an air ambulance rapid response team, eight fire engines and more than 50 firefighters were involved in the rescue, said the BBC.

The probe will try to find out why a part of the roof of the theatre came crashing down.

London had witnessed a thunderstorm yesterday and some of the reports suggest that the collapse might have been caused by a lightning but London Fire Brigade denied having recorded any lightning.
The Apollo theatre was built in 1901 and is a Grade II listed building with four storeys.

It has been owned by Nimax theatres since 2005.

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