Latest: Seven Seriously Injured After Ceiling Collapse At Apollo Theatre
Seven people have been seriously injured after a ceiling collapse at the Apollo Theatre tonight.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is currently playing at the venue, and was mid-performance when the incident occurred.
The London Ambulance Service said that they had treated 81 walking wounded at the scene, many with head injuries, as well as seven more seriously hurt.
However, none of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening.
London buses were used to transport those requiring further treatment to hospitals.
Emergency services are now working with Westminster City Council and engineers to ensure the structural integrity of the building.
Kingsland fire station manager Nick Harding said in a statement: "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.
"Specialist urban search and rescue crews were also called to the scene to make sure no one was trapped. Fortunately all those who were trapped have been rescued and treated for injuries or taken to hospital.
"In my time as a fire officer I've never seen an incident like this. I imagine lots of people were out enjoying the show in the run-up to Christmas. My thoughts go out to all those affected."
Incident commander Maria Smith said: "When I arrived it was dark and extremely dusty - people were lying on the floor of the theatre. We very quickly set up a casualty clearing area in the foyer of the theatre - the walking wounded were assessed and treated there."
Sources had earlier suggested that the roof "cracked" and fell on to the centre stalls and dress circle, with the London Fire Brigade Union Twitter account adding: "Ornate ceiling of plaster and wooden supports collapsed. 720 inside at the time."
Audience members also reported hearing "creaking" prior to the collapse.
The emergency services were called at around 8.15pm GMT after reports of a "ceiling collapse", and at 9.20pm GMT the fire brigade confirmed that following the work of specialist search and rescue teams, all those who had been trapped were out of the building.
The neighbouring theatres were also used to triage the injured, while cast members from the neighbouring Gielgud Theatre reported that they were caring for the Apollo's animal performers.
The incident has unsurprisingly created chaos in Theatreland, closing Shaftesbury Avenue itself, as well as triggering massive media coverage.
Prime minister David Cameron said: "I've been updated regularly on the Apollo incident. I'm grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured."
Leader of the opposition Ed Miliband said: "Sorry to hear of events at Apollo Theatre. All of our thoughts with those injured and emergency services."
Mark Haddon, the author of the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, tweeted: "It's been horrifying sitting here watching what has been happening at the Apollo this evening. I'm hugely relieved that no-one has died and I hope that those who were seriously injured are OK. I'm sorry, too, that so many people went through such a terrifying experience."
At the time of writing, there has been no official statement as yet from Nimax Theatres, who own the Apollo as well as the Duchess, the Garrick, the Lyric, the Palace and the Vaudeville Theatres in the West End.
The Apollo is a Grade II-listed four-level theatre with a capacity of 775. It was opened in February 1901, and notable recent productions have included A Long Day's Journey Into Night, Three Days Of Rain and Glengarry Glen Ross.
Like many of the West End theatres, the Apollo ticket prices include a £1 restoration levy, intended to go towards the upkeep of the venue.
Photo Credit: Ray Tang/REX USA/London News Pictures/Rex