As it happened: Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse

Key Points

  • More than 80 people have been injured - seven seriously - after part of the roof at London's Apollo Theatre collapsed.
  • The incident happened during a performance of the play The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-time.
  • Eye-witnesses reported hearing a "cracking" noise before the collapse at about 20:15 GMT.
  • London Ambulance say around 81 people are walking wounded and all those who were trapped had been freed.

Join the discussion

Comment here

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published.
Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Terms and conditions


    Welcome to our special coverage of the collapse of a part of the roof at the Apollo Theatre in London's Shaftesbury Avenue.

    We will be bringing you the latest updates on the incident.


    Part of a roof in the Apollo Theatre in central London has collapsed during a performance.

    Apollo theatre London Fire Brigade said eight fire engines were attending the scene

    The theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue was packed for a performance of the Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-time.


    Eyewitness 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.

    Emergency services at Apollo Theatre
    Via Twitter London Fire Brigade

    tweets: It's thought there were around 700 people in the theatre on #Shaftesbury Avenue in #Soho. It's thought between 20-40 people were injured.

    Via Twitter Metropolitan Police

    tweets: Five people seriously injured. They have been taken to central London hospitals. Not aware of any fatalities at this early stage.


    Neil Mickel, the stage manager of the Apollo theatre, tells the BBC as far as he knows none of the cast were injured when the ceiling collapsed.

    Emergency services at Apollo Theatre

    The Met Police says it believes there are more than 40 walking wounded who are being treated at the nearby Gielgud Theatre.

    London buses were being used to transport wounded to hospital, it added.


    Jess Bowie, content editor of The House political magazine, tweeted: "Was just seeing 'The Curious Incident' in the West End when the roof of the Apollo Theatre caved in.

    "Absolutely petrifying. Don't know if anyone is trapped in there but people outside are covered in dust and some in blood. Utterly horrible."


    The Apollo Theatre is owned and operated by Nimax Theatres and has 775 seats over four levels.

    The auditorium is split over four levels - there are 480 seats in the stalls and dress circle level. The stage measures 9.2m x 8.8m.


    The theatre is named after the Greek god of the arts and leader of the muses.

    The Apollo Theatre first opened its doors in February 1901.


    A London Fire Brigade spokesman tells BBC News about 80 people have been injured, four have serious injuries and have been taken to hospital by ambulance.

    Others are walking wounded.

    Injured person at the theatre

    The spokesman said people have been "very lucky to get away with injuries that they have". It was a "very serious" incident, he added.

    Via Twitter London Air Ambulance

    tweets: Our advanced trauma team was dispatched to the incident at #apollo

    Via Twitter TfL Traffic News

    tweets: Shaftesbury Ave in central London remains shut btwn Piccadilly Circus and Cambridge Circus (Apollo Theatre incident). Delays on diversion.


    TfL Bus Alerts say routes 14, 19 and 38 are being diverted due to the Apollo Theatre incident.

    David Lammy,

    Labour MP for Tottenham, north London, tweets: Shocked and saddened to hear news of Apollo Theatre roof collapse. Thoughts with all those affected and really hoping everyone OK.

    Labour leader Ed Miliband

    tweets: "Sorry to hear of events at Apollo Theatre. All of our thoughts with those injured and emergency services."


    Business owner Khalil Anjarwalla says he, his heavily pregnant wife and her parents managed to escape after "kilos of concrete plummeted from the ceiling".

    Injured person at the theatre

    "I was in the upper circle with my family when, about 45 minutes in, people started shouting and screaming".

    London Ambulance

    tweets: We have treated 81 walking wounded and 7 more seriously injured patients at #ApolloTheatre incident - more updates to follow


    Mr Anjarwalla, who is from Kenya and is visiting his in-laws with his wife Aliya, tells the BBC: "We saw a lot of people completely covered in dust - I could hardly breathe.

    "We had to get out, calmly. I remember thinking the cloud, the dust - it reminded me of those scenes from 9/11 in the aftermath of the building collapsing."

    "My wife is seven months pregnant but she is OK."


    The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time was playing and eyewitnesses say they heard a "loud creaking noise" before the roof appeared to "crumble".

    London Fire Brigade

    tweets: Our spokesman at the scene said he's never seen anything like the #theatre incident in #Soho & that his thoughts are with those affected.


    In a statement London Fire Brigade says more than 50 firefighters and eight fire engines were sent to Apollo Theatre.

    Station Manager Nick Harding, who is at the scene, said: "We believe around 720 people were in the theatre at the time.

    "A section of the theatre's ceiling collapsed onto the audience who were watching the show.


    Specialist urban search and rescue crews were called to the scene who searched the theatre for people who might be trapped.

    Injured people were taken to hospital on London buses Injured people were taken to hospital on London buses

    "Fortunately all those who were trapped have been rescued and treated for injuries or taken to hospital," London Fire Brigade said.

    Listen: 2211:

    Lucy Atherton was watching the show with her family.

    Speaking to the BBC she said the theatre was packed when the roof crumbled.

    Ross Hawkins BBC political correspondent

    tweets from the scene: First response 3 mins after call, 85 casualties, taken to 3 hospitals

    Video 2215:

    Police, rescue and emergency crews reached the Apollo Theatre within minutes of the collapse, eyewitnesses have told the BBC.

    Eyewitness Khalil Anjarwalla, who was watching the performance with his heavily-pregnant wife, ‏said he was "shocked" by the incident.

    Simon Usborne features writer at The Independent

    tweets: Back home after Apollo theatre collapse. Terrifying. Sheltered in stalls by upper circle. Loud bangs, cracks. Thought was part of show...

    He added: ... then whole interior of theatre filled with curtain of dark grey dust and debris, falling on heads of anyone not sheltered....


    Lots of theatre stars are at the after party for the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical nearby. Impresario Bill Kenwright said he was "shocked", while comedian Jimmy Carr said: "My heart goes out to everyone involved at the theatre".

    Paramedics at the scene

    There are 25 ambulance crews, 12 officers, members of our hazardous area response team at the scene in addition to Air ambulance crews, the London Ambulance Service tweets.

    Daily Mail front page

    The first edition of the Daily Mail carries the story of the Apollo Theatre roof collapse with the headline "Nightmare in Theatreland".


    A district surveyor from Westminster City Council is on the way to the scene to carry out structural assessment of the building.

    Westminster Council leader Philippa Roe said: "We are obviously shocked to hear the news and our immediate concerns are with the people that have been injured."

    Prime Minister David Cameron

    tweets: I've been updated regularly on the Apollo incident. I'm grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured.

    Daily Telegraph front page

    The Daily Telegraph's first edition leads on the roof collapse.

    Jason Rosam BBC London 94.9

    tweets: People in foil blankets in the foyer of Queens Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue...

    Apollo theatre

    London Ambulance is saying it has treated 88 patients, 81 of whom had suffered minor injuries and seven people with more serious injuries were taken to hospital.

    Daily Express first edition

    The first edition of Friday's Daily Express takes the story as its lead.


    BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins is at the scene and has tweeted this picture of firefighters using an aerial ladder platform at the theatre.

    Fire Brigade's crane on the roof of the theatre

    This is the Metro's front-page lead for Friday:

    Metro front page

    A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson says: "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."

    Wounded people in a bus Wounded people in a bus

    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.

    Apollo theatre
    Breaking News

    A spokesman for London Fire Brigade says four people have been seriously injured but none have life-threatening injuries.

    The "search is now complete" and the theatre has been sealed.


    The fire brigade spokesman added there was "no warning" before there was a sudden collapse.

    Most of the injuries were head injuries and many had cuts and abrasions.

    Matt Malone

    tweets: I hope someone names & praises the ushers & FOH manager at the #Apollo tonight. They stayed to help, not knowing if they'd get hurt!

    Firefighters on the roof

    A structural investigation will now take place into why the plaster ceiling collapsed.


    Transport for London, the capital's public transport body, says three of their contracted buses were near the Apollo at the time of the incident are being used to transport walking wounded to hospital. No info on destinations.


    Kevin Brown from the London Ambulance Service gave an update of the situation: "We had our first responsders on scene within three minutes and very shortly afterwards we declared a major incident.

    "We currently have deployed 25 of our front-line resources to this incident and at the present time we are treating 85 casualties.

    "Four of those are in the more serious category, the other 81 are walking wounded and currently being treated."


    As our live coverage comes to a close, a reminder of this evening's events: Central London's Apollo Theatre was packed with more than 700 people when a part of the ceiling collapsed.

    Theatre-goers watching a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time when the incident happened at about 20:15 GMT.


    Emergency services were at the scene within minutes and the London Ambulance Service has treated up to 85 people, four of whom have serious but non life-threatening injuries.

    Injured person

    The ornate plasterwork ceiling collapsed and brought part of the lighting rig down, it added.


    Theatre-goers told the BBC they heard a loud "creaking" noise before the ceiling suddenly collapsed, leaving a cloud of dust as lights in the theatre went out.

    There are no reports of fatalities, police said.


    The search and rescue operation is now complete and the theatre has been sealed as a structural inspection will now take place.

    Apollo theatre

    An investigation into the incident has also begun.

    Actor David Suchet

    tweets: What a tragedy. My thoughts are with all those who are hurt and injured at the Apollo Theatre. I have played this beautiful theatre.


    That's it for our coverage here, there'll be continuing updates through the night on BBC London 94.9, BBC Radio 5 live and on the BBC News website. Our main story can be read here .


Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.