Urgent Investigations Needed After Apollo Theatre Roof Collapse

Over 80 Theatregoers Injured As Ceiling Falls 30ft During Performance In London’s West End

20.12.2013

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Over 700 people had to be evacuated from the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue last night (19/12/2013) after the roof collapsed half-way through a performance of popular play 'The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time'.

Although there have been no reported fatalities, it is understood that 76 people were injured, with more than 50 needing hospital treatment and seven suffering serious injuries in the disaster, which has shocked the whole of London’s West End.

Witnesses said that some of the crowd thought it was part of the show at the Grade II listed building, before actors interrupted their performance to warn theatregoers.

People who were inside at the time of the collapse told the media that there was a loud creaking noise before plaster, lighting rigs and parts of the ceiling crashed 30ft into the stalls.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell’s specialist injury team has previously represented a group of people who were injured when a temporary stage collapsed at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, injuring more than 30 people in 2003. Lawyers at the firm say that an urgent investigation is needed to identify any lessons that can be learned.

Colin Ettinger, an expert injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said:

Expert Opinion
Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at what must be an extremely challenging time.

“We have represented many people who have suffered serious injuries in public places and the most important point now is that they receive the treatment they need for both their physical and psychological injuries to help them recover as quickly as possible.

“The victims and their families will want to know what went wrong at the Apollo Theatre and there is a need for urgent investigations to identify how this happened so that any wider issues are identified and lessons may be learned to prevent it happening again.

“The Fire Brigade has undertaken a preliminary examination of the ceiling and Westminster City Council is also undertaking its own investigation into the incident. There are many issues which will need to be considered including the structural integrity of the ceiling, whether the thunderstorm had an effect, if there was water ingress or leakage - and if so its source, as well as the adequacy of the inspection and maintenance regime at the building which is Grade II listed.
“It must also be said that the emergency services responded to the incident very quickly and effectively and may have helped save lives. This includes the Police road closures, the number of ambulances and other NHS vehicles present and the London Fire Brigade’s rescue operation.”
Colin Ettinger, Partner

Structural engineers and the emergency services will today conduct further investigations as they seek to identify the cause of the collapse.

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