About seventy-six people were injured, seven seriously, after part of a ceiling in London’s Apollo Theatre collapsed during a show, police say.
The venue in Shaftesbury Avenue was packed for a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time.
Eyewitnesses heard “a crackling” noise before the collapse at about 20:15 GMT. Theatre-goers left covered in debris.
The owners of the theatre, Nimax theatres, described it as a “shocking and upsetting” incident and said an investigation was under way.
A spokesman for the company said “thoughts are with the audience and staff”.
A total of 58 people were taken to hospital but there were no life-threatening injuries.
Ch Supt Paul Rickett, who is in charge of policing in London’s City of Westminster, said: “All of the emergency services responded to this incident using tried and tested systems that we have for working together. That response has been swift and effective.
Incident commander Maria Smith, who was one of the first on scene, said: “When I arrived it was dark and extremely dusty and people were lying on the floor of the theatre.
“We very quickly set up a casualty clearing area in the foyer of the theatre and the walking wounded were assessed and treated there for injuries such as cuts and grazes, breathing problems and head injuries.
London Fire Brigade said its “search is now complete” and the theatre has been sealed off.
London has over 45 theatres open and there were over 14 million theater attendances generating £450m in Box office revenues.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “I’ve been updated regularly on the Apollo incident. I’m grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured.”
A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “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.”