Nearly 80 audience members at the 113-year-old Apollo Theatre in London's West End were injured, seven seriously, when part of the ornate plaster ceiling became detached from its supports on the evening of Dec. 19.
On first inspection, city officials said the ceiling supporting structure appeared to be sound though detailed investigations had yet to start. The section of falling plaster, reportedly about 2 meters square, demolished parts of the balconies, according to the London Fire Brigade.
The ceiling failure was "an isolated incident," claims Nickie Aiken, Westminster Council's Cabinet Member for Community Protection. Safety checks at the Apollo and all other major London theaters are up to date, she adds. However, owners of all London's major theaters are undertaking further checks, she says.
"Every theatre undergoes rigorous safety checks and inspections by independent experts," reports the Society of London Theatre, representing the owners. "Incidents like last night are extremely rare."
The Apollo's owner, Nimax Theatres Ltd., London, cancelled performances of the current play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, until at least Jan. 4. Nimax owns six historic London theaters.