January 20, 2018
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Balcony collapse kills 6 in California

An apartment balcony crowded with birthday revelers collapsed near the University of California at Berkeley, killing five college students from Ireland and an American friend, and injuring seven others, authorities said.

The victims, most of whom were working in the San Francisco Bay area on temporary visas for the summer vacation, had been celebrating a friend's 21st birthday on the fourth-floor balcony when the accident occurred, according to local police and Irish government officials.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan told a news conference about 12 hours after the collapse that there was "no indication of criminal activity or criminal intent."

Authorities said 13 people were on the balcony when it gave way, plunging them 12 meters to the street below, with some victims landing on top of one another. Three men and three women died, and the seven others remained hospitalized today.

Berkeley police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats described the injuries as "very serious and potentially life-threatening."

Pictures from the scene showed the fallen deck pancaked onto a third-story balcony beneath it at the Library Gardens apartment complex, about two blocks from the UC Berkeley campus across the bay from San Francisco.

The small balcony had been rated to safely carry a maximum weight of 60 pounds per square foot, city spokesman said, adding there was no requirement for the building owners to post its weight limits.

No one was on the third-floor balcony at the time, and no one on the ground was hurt, police said.

Phil Grant, the San Francisco-based Irish consul for the US West Coast, said news of the accident had left citizens all over Ireland "frozen in shock and disbelief."

"It's deeply, deeply tragic, and it touches every family in Ireland," he said.

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Tags:  Berkeley  balcony  accident  collapse  Ireland  

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