Lucky escape as Australian cinema ceiling collapses
Sydney: Dozens of Australian moviegoers were injured on Monday when the roof of a cinema crashed down on them during a wild storm, forcing them to scramble under seats to avoid falling debris.
Police said 36 people suffered minor injuries at The Metro Cinema in the regional centre of Bathurst, 175 kilometres (110 miles) west of Sydney, when the building`s false ceiling fell down on them.
"All these patients received minor injuries, including cuts and abrasions, with the most serious injury occurring to one person being a shoulder injury," Ambulance Service paramedic Craig Pusser told the ABC.
Sixteen people were initially trapped in the collapse but emergency officials quickly released them before conducting a secondary sweep to ensure no one had been overlooked.
Moviegoers said children had screamed after parts of the ceiling began raining down on audiences in several screens at the multiplex theatre while one patron narrowly escaped being hit by a large piece of an air-conditioning unit.
"We were watching (Chronicles of) Narnia and we heard water leaking... at first we thought it could have been special effects," one witness told Sky News.
"And then it got louder and louder and then the roof was coming down on us."
Bathurst local Annastasia Burns, who had her three-month-old baby with her, said she was waiting for the movie "Love and Other Drugs" to begin when she realised something was wrong.
"Rain started coming through the corner of our cinema but no one worried too much," she told The Daily Telegraph.
"Then one person went out to tell the cinema staff and when she came back the water started pouring in and the whole ceiling fell. We hit the decks under the seats straight away."
"The entire ceiling fell and we were stuck under it."
Burns said she sheltered with her baby under the seats while a girlfriend who was 39-weeks pregnant who was also with her managed to crawl to safety.
Aaron Lange, who was at a restaurant neighbouring the cinema at the time, said about 40 people were brought into the eatery to be checked after the accident.
"As far as injuries are concerned I think they would be at the lower end," he told the ABC. "There were some children who seemed to be distressed, more than injured."
The intense storm which hit Bathurst brought wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres (56 miles) an hour to the town and dumped 10 millimetres (0.4 inches) of rain in 30 minutes, the weather bureau said.
Flooding has caused havoc across a massive area of northeastern Australia, but the latest incident was unrelated.
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