20 December 2013
Last updated at 20:11 ET
One line of inquiry will be the effect of adverse weather on the listed building
Initial safety checks at a London theatre where a part of a ceiling collapsed have been completed.
Seventy-six people were injured when ornate plasterwork at the Apollo fell during a production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
The Shaftesbury Avenue venue has been handed back to the Apollo’s owner, Nimax Theatres, by the authorities.
The investigation will be carried out by Westminster City Council after police ruled out criminal action.
The council said the building was safe for its investigators to go in to but would have to conclude its investigation before it could say whether it was safe to open.
A spokeswoman for Nimax Theatres said: “The relevant authorities handed the theatre back to Nimax which meant we could commence the process of carefully recovering and logging all personal effects left in the theatre following its evacuation and subsequently return them to their owners.”
‘Open for business’
The theatre was packed with 720 people when the ceiling partially collapsed on Thursday evening. Seven of those hurt were said to have serious injuries.
The situation was dealt with by London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police. Three London buses were commandeered to take some of the casualties to hospital.
Most of the injured were treated for cuts and bruises, and discharged after a short time. Performances at the Apollo have been cancelled until 4 January.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the emergency services were “exemplary”, and insisted the West End – heart of the capital’s Theatreland – remained “open for business”.
The mayor said: “I would stress that, although it is too early to say what caused this collapse, and whilst this was a serious incident, London’s world-renowned Theatreland is open for business and thousands of theatre-goers will rightly be out and about.”
Nicola Aiken, the council’s cabinet member for community protection, said there was no reason to believe it was anything other than “an isolated incident”.
She said: “We have confirmed with the Society of London Theatre that all theatres’ safety checks are up to date – however, as a precaution, all historic theatres are carrying out further safety checks.”
Ms Aiken said the council would leave “no stone unturned” in the investigation but could not say how long it would take.
Reports suggested water dripped through ceiling cracks before it fell. London Fire Brigade said it was lucky more people were not injured.
One line of inquiry will be the effect of adverse weather on the Grade II-listed building.
There was a thunderstorm and a heavy rain burst in London on Thursday evening with a high number of lightning strikes across the capital.
Mhora Samuel, from The Theatres Trust, said: “This was a very, very rare thing to have happened. The public should be completely reassured that all the theatres in the West End are safe.”
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has been running in London since August 2012.
The show started at the National Theatre before transferring to the Apollo in March this year.
Nimax also runs the Garrick, Duchess and Vaudeville theatres.
London theatres in numbers
- theatres open*
- gross box office revenue
Source: Society of London Theatre, 2012
*Central London average