A writer who was at London's Apollo Theatre when the ceiling collapsed said he saw "a lot of kids traumatised, covered in dust and blood being comforted by parents".
The Independent features writer Simon Usborne told Daybreak: "There were screams, it was immediately clear something serious had happened.
"Nobody told anyone to move - everybody rose immediately and ran to the nearest exit".
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Following criticism from MPs and campaigners, the work and pensions secretary said the helpline would be free by the end of the year.