Six people, including at least five students from Ireland, died on Tuesday after a balcony collapsed early in the day at an apartment complex near the University of California Berkeley. At least seven other people were injured.
Jennifer Coats, a Berkeley Police Department spokeswoman, stated that some of the injured have life-threatening injuries.
The group of people was celebrating the 21st birthday of a female student, who was one of the five people killed. Police summoned by an emergency call at 12:41 a.m. found the fourth-floor balcony had collapsed and debris on the street; they said they had received a call at midnight complaining about noise from the apartment with the ill-fated balcony, but had not responded.
Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed four people died at the scene; the fifth died in the hospital. He released a statement, saying:
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 a balcony in Berkeley, California, earlier today. My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the deceased and those who have been injured in this appalling accident. It is too early to know the full extent of this dreadful accident but I have opened my department’s Consular Crisis Centre and activated our emergency response line so we can provide assistance and guidance to the families of those affected and to others who have concerns.
U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley added:
I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy and condolence to the families, loved one, and friends of the Irish student who lost their lives this morning in Berkeley, California. All of us at the United States Embassy are greatly saddened by the news of this tragedy and are ready to do whatever we can to assist the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs at this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, loved ones, and friends at this difficult time.
Ireland government officials said that the students from Ireland appear to have visited the U.S. on J-1 visas for the summer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the apartment building at 2020 Kittredge Street, called the Library Gardens, was built in 2006.
Berkeley police Officer Bryon White said officials have red-tagged the other balconies in the building, White said.