One person was killed and 28 others were injured after a full roof collapse at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Illinois, on Friday evening following devastating storms and tornadoes that ripped through the South and Midwest, officials said.
Approximately 260 people, including guests, performers and staff, were inside the venue for a heavy metal rock concert at the time of the collapse, according to the event coordinator.
Belvidere is in northern Illinois, approximately 14 miles outside the city of Rockford. Despite severe weather in the region, there were no reports of an “actual tornado” hitting the area, Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said.
In southern Illinois, three other people died in Crawford County after a residential structural collapse during Friday’s severe weather, according to Kevin Sur, a spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The deaths confirmed in Illinois bring the overall death toll from Friday’s severe weather outbreak to 21 fatalities across six states.
At the Apollo Theatre, 28 people were transported by ambulance to nearby hospitals, Schadle said. Five had severe injuries; 18 had moderate injuries; and five had minor injuries. “Obviously there were probably other patients transported by personal vehicle,” he added.
During their initial response, crews coming into the building assisted in getting people out from under the debris. Crews established a triage center and relocation point for victims.
“It was a large response not only from all the public safety agencies, police, fire, as well as the bystanders to rescue those that were initially injured,” Schadle said.
A primary search of the theater has been completed, the chief said. “Right now, the MABAS 8 TRT rescue team is still operating behind us. They’re performing the secondary searches. They’re also looking into the stabilization of the building,” Schadle said.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said he is “closely monitoring” the situation. “I’ve been in touch with officials for updates and to direct any available resources we can,” he said in a tweet Friday night. “As we learn more, please follow the guidance of all local authorities.”
Morbid Angel, one of the metal bands scheduled to perform at the event, issued a statement on Facebook canceling the concert and urging fans to “seek shelter and stay safe.”
“We are currently sheltering in place, and want to extend our support and hope that everyone at the show tonight is safe. Right now our focus is on making sure everyone in the venue tonight is ok and gets home,” the band said.
A flyer for the event shows other bands set to perform on Friday evening were Revocation, Skeletal Remains and Crypta.
An investigation into the collapse is ongoing. Schadle said no first responders were injured and so far everyone has been accounted for.
“The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is working closely with our local and county public safety partners and Emergency Managers to assess the widespread damages across the state including here at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere in Boone County, and at Robinson in Crawford County,” the agency’s director, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, said in a statement. “We continue to assessing other damages in many counties across Illinois.”
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