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Student tells of West End theatre horror

Emergency services attending the scene at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, central London. Below: Amy Clark.

Emergency services attending the scene at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, central London. Below: Amy Clark.

A Blackpool woman has spoken of the terrifying moment she thought she was “going to die” when the ceiling at a packed London theatre collapsed onto the audience.

Drama student Amy Clark, revealed how a romantic evening with her boyfriend Grant Armstrong turned to disaster when the ceiling of the London Apollo Theatre collapsed.

About 10 sq m of ornate plasterwork dropped onto the crowd, injuring 76 people, seven seriously, in scenes Ms Clark, of Rosebery Avenue, South Shore, described as “chaos”.

The 20-year-old, who was in the capital with the Manchester School of Theatre and was in the audience to watch the production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, added: “I thought at first it was a bomb attack – I thought I was going to die.

“It must have been an hour into the production.

“It was quite a noisy scene and everyone thought it was part of the play.

“All of a sudden, one of the actors on stage shouted ‘watch out’. Then there was screaming and shouting and me and Grant saw the roof coming down.

“Everyone raced for the exits – it was chaos, really horrible.”

Ms Clark revealed how she and her boyfriend, sitting towards the back of the dress circle, raced for the exit.

She added: “There was dust everywhere. It was hard to breath and hard to see. People were leaping everywhere to get out – one man left his family to jump over several rows to get out, it was surreal.”

The incident happened around 8.15pm on Thursday as more than 700 people watched the production at the Shaftesbury Avenue-based theatre.

The emergency response included 25 ambulance crews, an air ambulance rapid response team, eight fire engines and more than 50 firefighters, as well as police.

Ms Clark added both her and Grant, 26, brother of Blackpool actor Jonas Armstrong, felt lucky not to have been seriously hurt

“I’ve never seen so many ambulances. We were so fortunate not to be injured – I think it was just shock for both of us. We both felt pretty sick afterwards,” she said. “People were being stretchered out, others who looked injured.”

Investigators are still trying to establish why the roof collapsed, but some theatre goers reported water dripping through cracks in the West End venue’s ceiling before it came down.

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