Emergency services said nearly 90 people were injured on Thursday (December 19) when part of the ceiling collapsed during a performance at a packed London theatre, bringing the city's West End entertainment district to a standstill.
The audience was showered with masonry and debris following the incident at the Apollo Theatre, where about 720 people including many families were watching the hugely popular play "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time".
Emergency services said 88 people were injured. They described 81 as "walking wounded", many with head injuries, while seven others were taken to hospital with more serious injuries.
Eyewitness Hannah George explained she initially thought the incident was part of the show.
"My husband and I were up in the balcony about five rows from the front and then we saw two or three people get up in the front row and then very quickly the second row and the third row started getting up and rushing away and for a second I thought 'was this part of the show' and then we heard a creak and somebody screamed and shouted look out and then we saw part of the ceiling collapse. A couple of metres by a couple of metres I reckon of plaster and wood and stuff missed the balcony edge and it must have gone down and hit the people mainly in the stalls downstairs," she said.
It was too early to speculate about the cause but police said there was no suggestion that it was the result of any deliberate attack.
There was no indication either that heavy storms earlier in the evening were to blame and investigations would continue through the night, Harding said.
Witnesses said they saw the ceiling in the four-storey auditorium suddenly collapse during the performance, creating panic when those inside realised it was not part of the play.
Emergency vehicles blocked off Shaftesbury Avenue in the heart of London's theatre-land, packed with revellers on one of the busiest nights of the year in the week before Christmas.
Presented by Adam Justice