Nightly News   |  December 19, 2013

Balcony falls on audience during London theater performance

Multiple people are injured after part of a balcony collapsed onto the audience during a play in the West End theatre district. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we mentioned at the top of the broadcast a huge emergency response is playing out in london after part of the balcony gave way, fell in on the audience during a play in the london west end theater district . there are multiple injuries. nbc's jim maceda is at the scene tonight. jim , good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. we can hear sirens, ambulances going through the west end part of london . we understand at least 80 injuried, some seriously. the sirens and ambulances are dealing with it. officials told us they have cleared out, evacuated the theater. but just a few hours ago witnesses were saying it felt like the sky had fallen. it happened just after 8:00 p.m . in a packed house more than 700 people here to see an award winning play, "the curious incident of the dog in the night" when the audience in the top balcony hears cracking sounds, pieces of plaster falling and chaos.

>> a loud bang. i don't think it was an explosion. the ceiling came down. dust, chandelier, wood and all that landed on five or six rows.

>> we thought it was sound effects of the theater. yaechlt then we looked up and the whole ceiling just came down.

>> reporter: the famous apollo theater in the heart of london's west end theater district became a bowl of dust. theatregoers describe pandemonium with people running for the exits screaming the names of friends and loved ones outside while inside dozens of injured, some crushed by the falling rubble. dozens of fire trucks and ambulances arrived on the scene. emergency rescue teams set up in store shops and restaurants treating the injured. while people who just minutes before were enjoying a play were in shock, wrapped in foil against the cold night.

>> you couldn't see what was going on.

>> reporter: amazingly officials say there were no fatalities and only a handful of serious injuries. mostly broken legs and head wounds from falling debris.

>> jim maceda in london tonight . thanks for that.