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One killed, dozens hurt when theatre roof collapses in Illinois

One man was killed and several dozen people hurt when the roof of a theater in Belvidere, Illinois, collapsed Friday night amid powerful winds, part of a massive storm system that hit multiple states.

Video from CBS Chicago showed debris lying in the street outside the Apollo Theatre, with firefighters and ambulances on scene. Cell phone video captured the damage from inside the structure. 

A 50-year-old man was killed and about 40 others were injured, officials said in a news briefing Saturday. The Belvidere Police Department said the collapse occurred as a heavy storm rolled through the area and that calls began coming from the theater at 7:48 p.m. local time. It said that an initial assessment was that a tornado had caused the damage. 

The collapse occurred at the Apollo Theatre during a heavy metal concert in the town located about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.

Two of the injured had life-threatening injuries, two had severe injuries, 18 had milder injuries, and five had minor injuries, Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said Saturday.  

There were upwards of 200 people in the building at the time of the collapse, Schadle disclosed. 

Belvidere Theatre Collapse
At the scene of where the roof of the Apollo Theatre in  Belvidere, Illinois, collapsed amid a powerful storm which hit the region. March 31, 2023.  CBS Chicago

Schadle said Friday that first responders also rescued someone from an elevator and had to grapple with downed power lines outside the theater. 

Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody described the scene after the collapse as "chaos, absolute chaos."    

The bands Morbid Angel, Revocation and Skeletal Remains were holding a concert at the venue Friday night, according to Apollo's website. It's unclear which of the bands were playing when the collapse occurred. Morbid Angel later posted on its Facebook page that the show was canceled "due to a tornado that hit the venue."

"My administration is closely monitoring the roof collapse at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere tonight," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted

The monster storm system which tore through the South and Midwest on Friday spawned tornadoes which left at least 21 people dead across six states. Along with Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi and Alabama also had weather-related fatalities.  

The destructive weather came as President Biden earlier Friday toured the aftermath of a deadly tornado that struck in Mississippi one week ago and promised the government would help the area recover.

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