Dozens of people have been injured after part of the ceiling of a theatre in London's West End caved in. Police have confirmed that there were no fatalities but the cause of the incident remains unclear.
Emergency services officials said at least 88 people were injured on Thursday night after part of the ceiling caved in at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End.
Of these, 81 were described as "walking wounded," with seven others having been taken to hospital for treatment for more serious injuries.
More than 700 people were in the Apollo at the time of the incident, which came during a performance of the popular play "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time."
Witnesses described the horror of seeing the ceiling suddenly crumble above their heads.
"We saw the ceiling give way and it just dropped down onto the stalls. There was dust everywhere and people were screaming," Steve George, 29, who was in the audience, told the Reuters news agency.
American tourist Scott Daniels told the Associated Press that at first, he had thought that the commotion was part of the play.
"A lot of action and dialogue was happening at the same time on stage, but then when the lights went out and everything filled with dust - everybody was coughing and choking," he said.
London had been hit by a heavy thunderstorm just over an hour before the incident occurred, but Nick Harding of the London Fire Brigade told Reuters that there was no indication that the storm was to blame. He said an investigation would continue through the night, but that rescue workers were sure that nobody remained trapped in the rubble and that there had been no fatalities.
"Everyone is out of the building and everyone is safe," he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron used a statement via his Twitter account to praise London’s emergency services for their "fast work" in attending to the injured.
The Apollo Theatre, which has a seating capacity of 775, first opened its doors in early 1901.
pfd/ccp (Reuters, AP, dpa)