Crypta, a Brazilian death metal band, had just finished a set at an Illinois theater on Friday when the venue made an announcement: The show would be paused for a half-hour because of dangerous weather raging outside. A few minutes later, the roof caved in.
According to the venue’s official Facebook page, doors were scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m., with CRYPTA set to perform at 7 p.m., SKELETAL REMAINS at 7:45 p.m., REVOCATION at 8:40 p.m. and MORBID ANGEL at 9:40 p.m.
Hundreds of people were inside the theater for a sold-out metal concert featuring Morbid Angel, Skeletal Remains, Revocation as the monster storm system tore through southern and midwest US on Friday, spawning deadly tornadoes that shredded homes and shopping centres in Arkansas and Chicago.
Authorities said one person was killed and 28 people injured after the roof of the Apollo Theater collapsed during a tornado in the town of Belvidere, about 70 miles (113km) north-west of Chicago.
The Belvidere fire department chief, Shawn Schadle, said 260 people were in the venue at the time. He said first responders also rescued someone from an elevator and had to grapple with downed power lines outside the theatre.
The town’s police chief, Shane Woody, described the scene after the collapse as “chaos, absolute chaos”.
At least one person was killed and at least 28 others were hospitalized after the “full roof collapse” at the Apollo, Shawn Schadle, the city’s fire chief, said on Friday night, adding that five people had severe injuries.
Death metal pioneers Morbid Angel who are currently on their 40 Years Of Acid tour, posted a message on Facebook urging fans still travelling to the show to change their plans.
“Tonight’s show is cancelled due to a tornado that hit the venue, and caused the roof over the area in-front of the stage and marquee to collapse,” wrote the band. “We ask anyone who is still traveling to the venue to please 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.”
Janell Emmanuel, the mother of MORBID ANGEL guitarist Trey Azagthoth (born George Emmanuel III), took to her Facebook page to write: “Concerning the tornadoes that destroyed a venue MORBID ANGEL would be playing tonight. I spoke with Trey. He was in the back of the bus when this happened but he said everyone was OK. I could tell he is physically shaken by this as he saw the building collapse and knew their were people inside. All of the band members from the four bands thank God we’re safe. It seems like it happen after CRYPTA finished, and before the next band entered the stage. Trey said a very large oak tree just missed the bus but that they were safe.
“Our saddest regrets and prayers go out to the members of the families who have lost love ones. Please be as respectful for those that are hurting.
“Trey was not sure about the continuing of the tour but I will do my best to keep you updated. Again, let’s give our thoughts and prayers to those who have lost their love ones.
“I am totally shaken by this and I think God all band members are unhurt.”
CRYPTA guitarist Tainá Bergamaschi said in an Instagram post that all the bands that were scheduled to perform tonight “are safe.”
Chicago news channel WGN reports that a tornado warning was issued for Belvedere at 7.23pm, and that the first damage reports came in half an hour later. According to The BBC, 260 fans were at the show, with one person killed and 28 taken to hospital. Of those, five are believed to be in a critical condition. CBS News reports that the building was struck about 30 minutes into the concert, and that the first call to emergency services warned of a “mass casualty collapse”.