London: Lumps of plaster and dust rained down on a packed audience when the ceiling of a London theater partially collapsed.
More than 75 people were injured and condition of seven is very serious.
The collapse at the Apollo Theatre took place around 8:15 pm during a performance of ''The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time'' at the height of the Christmas holiday season.
Plaster and masonry from a section of the ceiling tumbled down, bringing parts of the theater's balconies down with it onto the audience, police said.
More than 700 people were in the theater at the time, mostly injured were ''walking wounded'' with upper-body injuries, and that all are conscious and breathing.
According to sources, its is very soon to say what had caused the partial collapse of the ceiling, but that a full investigation is being carried out.
Scott Daniels, an American tourist who lives in the Dallas area, said he'd managed to buy a last-minute ticket to the acclaimed production just before show time.
''I was lucky to get one seat that they had left over,'' he told The Associated Press. About 40 or 45 minutes into the show, he said, he started hearing noises — and screaming.
''I thought, maybe this is part of the play,'' he said. ''All of a sudden, plaster starts raining down, huge hunks of plaster … The lights went out and everything filled with dust — everybody was coughing and choking.'' He said he made it out with ''a couple scrapes,'' though he saw others with more serious lacerations.
City buses were commandeered to usher some of the wounded to hospitals.
Injuries ranged from head wounds to cuts and scrapes to breathing problems.
The fire department said no one was trapped in the theater, explaining that rescuers had helped evacuate some theatergoers who had been trapped ''by the nature of their injuries'' where they had stood when the ornate plastering came down.
Shaftesbury Avenue, normally one of London's busiest streets and teeming with pedestrians, was completely shut down by emergency workers. The Apollo Theatre, named for the Greek and Roman god of music and the arts, was built in 1901 and has 775 seats.