A balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California, leaving five Irish citizens dead.
On Tuesday, June 15, a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California, killing five people and injuring eight others — four individuals were declared dead at the scene, and the other later died at the hospital.
The Guardian reports that the police were called to the scene shortly before 1:00 a.m. local time. When they arrived, they found that the fourth floor of an apartment building on Kittredge Street had collapsed.
Berkeley Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said the remaining survivors’ injuries were “very serious and potentially life-threatening.”
Breaking News as balcony collapse kills 5 and 8 others injured. Berkeley California. 4th floor of 4 story building pic.twitter.com/xQauqHlpqH
— Mike Hoss WWL-TV (@MHossWWL) June 16, 2015
The location where the accident took place has been a very popular area with the Irish students, whose visas allow them to work legally in the United States throughout the summer.
Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said that the police told him that no other nationalities were among those who were killed, according to Reuters.
“My understanding is that four people were declared dead at the scene, one later died in hospital. Up to eight or nine others have been taken to hospitals. Those involved are believed to be Irish students for the most part,” Flanagan said. “My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the deceased and those who have been injured.”
He later said, “It is with great sadness that I confirm that a number of young Irish citizens have lost their lives while a number of others have been seriously injured following the collapse of balcony in Berkeley, California, earlier today.”
The balcony collapsed during a birthday party, and many of the student’s families have already been notified by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The head of the Irish consulate in San Francisco, Philip Grant, was in Berkeley working with the police to determine the number of Irish casualties.
Ireland’s president, Michael D. Higgins, sent a message offering his condolences.
“I have heard with the greatest sadness of the terrible loss of life of young Irish people and the critical injury of others in Berkeley, California, today,” he said.
“My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all those involved. I have been informed of the consular assistance being provided to assist all of the families involved and I have asked to be kept informed as further details emerge.”
Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, also issued a statement.
“Shocking news of the deaths of several young Irish people in a tragic accident in California. My heart and sympathy goes out to their families,” he said.
The police are still investigating to determine what caused the balcony to collapse.
[Photo via Shutterstock]