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Ceiling collapses at London Theater during show, injuring five

Keikona/iStock
Keikona/iStock

(LONDON) — At least five people were injured after the ceiling of a theater in the heart of London’s entertainment district collapsed during a performance.

A production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman was underway Wednesday evening at the Piccadilly Theater in London’s West End when a section of the ceiling fell from the rear of the venue’s upper circle around 8 p.m. local time, promoters ATG said in a statement.

Around 1,100 people were evacuated from the theater after the incident, according to the London Fire Brigade. Five audience members sustained minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals.

Audience member Tracy De Groose described “running water, then lots of screams,” as the ceiling fell in a post on Twitter.

Police closed roads in the busy entertainment district and pictures posted on social media showed hundreds of audience members rushing from the venue. At least six fire engines and rescue unit vehicles were deployed to the scene.

An image of the damaged venue published by the fire brigade shows a section of ceiling approximately 15 feet in diameter missing from the ceiling above the upper level of seating.

Three fire engines and three fire rescue units were called to a theatre in #Piccadilly following a ceiling collapse. Around 1,100 people left the building before the Brigade arrived. Five people were treated on scene by @Ldn_Ambulance https://t.co/OChn8KbZwJ @©TheoSilkstone pic.twitter.com/LtffRtuGLJ

— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) November 7, 2019

“We take the safety and security of our audiences extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to ascertain the cause of the incident,” ATG said.

U.S. actor Wendell Pierce, who was playing Willy Loman in the production, was shown in a video posted on social media apologizing to the audience outside the venue.

“I did not mean for it to go like this. I would like to thank you all for one, safely evacuating. We apologize, we’re glad that no one is hurt and I ask you all to come back and see our production. We’re so honored that you came tonight, we’re so sorry this unfortunately happened,” he said.

Pierce is best-known for his portrayal of Detective Bunk Moreland in HBO drama The Wire, and appearing opposite Meghan Markle in legal drama Suits.

Thursday’s performance has been cancelled while the extent of the damage to the venue is being assessed and ticket-holders will be updated on future performances as soon as possible, promoters said in a statement.

Many of the theaters in London’s West End are very old and similar incidents have taken place in the past. In 2013, 76 people were injured when the ceiling of the city’s Apollo Theatre collapsed during a show.

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