London Times - Mayhem at Victoria & Albert Lecture - 47 Dead 8 Injured
|15 February 1892 - Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Mayhem struck last night at a scientific lecture on a recently-discovered continent in the Antarctic by the famed explorer Professor James Appleton and his daughter, Professor Jennifer Appleton.
Shortly after the lecture started, a gas line explosion rocked the museum's Lecture Theater which was, at the time, occupied by fifty-two attendees of the scientific community across a number of disciplines. The explosion blew the main doors into the crowd, dropping a central opera box and a large portion of the ceiling onto the unsuspecting crowd. James Appleton and forty-six guests were killed. Jennifer Appleton - shielded by the stone lectern at which she was speaking - was spared with only minor injuries.
Foul play is suspected as Jennifer described to Scotland Yard inspectors several men in red robes, claiming to be from the fringe cult the Children of Mu, entered the room shortly after the blast occurred in an attempt to steal the artifacts that the Appletons were presenting. Jennifer, with the aid of four surviving guests - led by Professor Georgina Rukhs who is curating an Egyptian exhibit currently being staged at the V&A - escaped from the cultists.
The cultist leader has been identified, although that information has not been released to the press.
Of the artifacts, a scroll and necklace were destroyed in the melee, but the remaining items - gold coins, books, an iron dagger, and a pair of gauntlets - remain intact. It is unclear whether proof of the lost continent is still possible without Professor Appleton and the destroyed artifacts.
The only other fatality was suffered by Thomas Billingsley, a researcher in the employ of the Appletons. Working in the nearby Science School building, Thomas was found unconscious in his lab where he was working to extract an insect from the black amber necklace found at the site. Reports are that the necklace exploded when cut, causing the wounds to Billingsley. Billingsley later died of his wounds.
The only other item missing was a painting from the Sheepshanks Gallery. Entitled "Moonlight Coastal Scene", it was painted by J.W. Charmichael in 1840 and was on loan from Cragside House.
Report any tips on this incident to Inspector Smythe at Scotland Yard.