[article] London (CNN) -- A rescue operation was under way Thursday after part of the ceiling in the Apollo Theatre in central London collapsed during a performance, injuring more than 40 people, five of them seriously, officials said. "It was like slow motion," said one girl, who initially thought the sound of the falling ceiling was sound effects, but soon learned otherwise. "It just kinda came down." "You initially thought it was part of the play and then you could feel things on you," said an older woman. "The dust that came down -- you couldn't see in front of you." Metropolitan Police said in a tweet that those who were seriously hurt had been taken to hospitals in central London, and that there was no immediate indication of fatalities. Authorities responded to the report at about 8:15 p.m., police said in a tweet. Within an hour, a spokesman for the fire department said everyone including those who had been hurt had been freed from the building, which was at or near its 775-seat capacity, as is customary during the Christmas season. Martin Bostock, who was with his wife and two children, said he thought the cave-in was part of the show until something very hard hit him on the head and chaos and panic erupted.