Thirty-six people escaped serious injury when the ceiling of an Australian cinema partially collapsed Monday after heavy rain, scrambling under chairs to avoid falling debris, police and reports said.
Police said 36 people suffered minor wounds after a fierce storm in the regional centre of Bathurst, 175 kilometres (110 miles) west of Sydney, brought down false ceilings.
“All these patients received minor injuries, including cuts and abrasions, with the most serious injury occurring to one person being a shoulder injury,” ambulance service paramedic Craig Pusser told the ABC.
“That person has been conveyed to hospital.”
Early reports said 16 people had been trapped in the collapse but police said while all movie-goers had been rescued, emergency personnel were conducting a secondary sweep to ensure nobody had been overlooked.
Reports said that children were among those involved in the dramatic incident which occurred at about 0145 GMT.
One mother, who had been watching the latest Chronicles of Narnia movie with her two children at the theatre, told Sky News that someone inside the cinema saw the ceiling falling and warned people to duck under the seats.
Aaron Lange, who was at a restaurant neighbouring the cinema at the time, said about 40 people were brought into the eatery to be checked after the accident.
“I think they are just being checked over by ambulance staff for shock or something,” he told the ABC.
“As far as injuries are concerned I think they would be at the lower end.
“There were some children who seemed to be distressed more than injured.”
The intense storm that hit Bathurst brought wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres (56 miles) an hour to the town and dumped 10 millimetres (0.4 inches) of rain in 30 minutes, the weather bureau said.
Flooding has caused havoc across a massive area of northeastern Australia, but the latest incident was unrelated.