At least six people died and seven were injured after a fourth-floor luxury apartment balcony collapsed early Tuesday morning in Berkeley, California. Authorities identified the dead as three men and three women, according to NBC News. Of the six, five were Irish students who were visiting the U.S. on temporary work visas.
They were identified as Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; and Eimar Walsh, 21, all from Ireland. Ashley Donohoe, 22, was from Rohnert Park, California.
“The families who have been bereaved in the tragedy in Berkeley earlier today have now all been contacted,” Ireland Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said in a statement. “I again want to express my deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this appalling incident. We continue to provide all possible consular assistance to those affected.”
The students were attending a 21st birthday party at the Library Gardens complex when the balcony collapsed around 12:40 a.m. local time, throwing students onto the street below, before it landed upside down on the third-floor balcony, according to USA Today. Berkeley Police spokesman Byron White said officers received a noise complaint around midnight, 40 minutes before the collapse. However, authorities did not respond since noise complaints are common in areas near the University of California, Berkeley campus.
Many of the students at the party were in the U.S. on the J-1 nonimmigrant work visa, which is given to those who visit the country on work-study exchange programs, according to Irish authorities.
We got 500 calls re #Berkeley & are now calling families back. If you called & have since heard from your loved one, pls call us: 01-4180200
â€” IrishForeignMinistry (@dfatirl) June 16, 2015
The city of Berkley has ordered the owner of the apartment complex to remove the collapsed balcony and perform a structural assessment on three balconies remaining on the structure within 48 hours, according to Berkeleyside. Access to those balconies has been prohibited in the meantime.