Safety reassurance after London theater collapse - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Safety reassurance after London theater collapse

Posted: Updated:
Police stand outside The Apollo Theatre in London, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Police stand outside The Apollo Theatre in London, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013.

LONDON (AP) — Authorities sought to reassure theatergoers Friday that London's elegant but aging venues are safe after chunks of ornamental plaster fell from a ceiling of the Apollo Theatre, showering patrons with dust and debris and injuring 79 people.

One line of inquiry for investigators is whether a brief but intense rainstorm was a factor in Thursday's accident at the century-old building.

The Society of London Theatre said all theaters undergo "rigorous safety checks and inspections by independent experts, and incidents like last night are extremely rare."

"Our theaters entertain over 32,000 people in central London every night and all theaters take the safety of their audience, performers and staff very seriously," it said.

Witnesses have described chaos and panic as large chunks of plaster, wooden beams and dust rained down on the audience 45 minutes into a performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

"I thought, maybe this is part of the play," said Scott Daniels, an American tourist from the Dallas area. "All of a sudden, plaster starts raining down, huge hunks of plaster ... The lights went out and everything filled with dust — everybody was coughing and choking."

London Ambulance Service said Friday that it had treated 79 people, 56 of whom were taken to local hospitals in ambulances and two commandeered London buses. Of these, 47 were "walking wounded" with minor injuries, while nine "had suffered more serious injuries including head and back injuries."

Nimax Theatres, which owns the Apollo, described the incident as "shocking and upsetting."

Like many of London's West End theaters, the Apollo is more than a century old, built in 1901.

The Theatres Trust, which helps preserve Britain's historic playhouses, said theater plasterwork was inspected regularly and certified by independent experts.

Westminster Council, the local authority, said an investigation was underway and an initial assessment by surveyors had found that the ceiling structure remained sound."

The council said the Apollo's health and safety checks were up to date.

"Each historic theatre is unique and we have no reason to believe this is other than an isolated incident," said Councillor Nickie Aiken.

The building remained cordoned off to the public Friday. The National Theatre, producers of "Curious Incident," said performances had been canceled through Jan. 4.

Marc Sinden, director of the documentary series "Great West End Theatres," said that despite the accident, London's theaters are extremely safe.

"These theaters have been around for a very long time, but they are looked after and regularly maintained. They are looked after daily," he said.

___

Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Closing arguments in violent crime spree case

    Closing arguments in violent crime spree case

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:21:16 GMT
    Closing arguments are scheduled Wednesday in the trial of a gang member accused of taking part in a 12-hour crime spree in San Diego. 
    Closing arguments are scheduled Wednesday in the trial of a gang member accused of taking part in a 12-hour crime spree in San Diego that included the near-fatal beating of an 18-year-old UC Berkeley student from the San Fernando Valley. 
  • College students displaced after house fire

    College students displaced after house fire

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:16 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:16:53 GMT
    A dozen people were displaced when discarded smoking material sparked a fire at a former fraternity house near San Diego State University early Wednesday, causing $250,000 in damage, authorities said. 
    A dozen people were displaced when discarded smoking material sparked a fire at a former fraternity house near San Diego State University early Wednesday, causing $250,000 in damage, authorities said. 
  • Fire damages Mission Beach apartment building

    Fire damages Mission Beach apartment building

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 4:01 PM EDT2014-04-16 20:01:57 GMT
    An electrical problem in a ground-floor kitchen wall sparked a fire Wednesday that caused an estimated $250,000 worth of damage to a Mission Beach apartment building. 
    An electrical problem in a ground-floor kitchen wall sparked a fire Wednesday that caused an estimated $250,000 worth of damage to a Mission Beach apartment building. 
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.