The Latest: Engineer says balcony appears small for load

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Posted: Jun 16, 2015 6:42 PM
The Latest: Engineer says balcony appears small for load

3:15 p.m. PDT

A structural engineer says a balcony that collapsed in California appeared too small to hold the 13 partygoers that officials said had gathered on it.

Engineer Grace Kang says California building codes during the past decade have required balconies to support 100-pounds per square foot. The previous codes called for 60 pounds of support per square foot.

Kang, who is also a spokeswoman for Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, says moving and dancing would have put additional strain on the balcony.

Six people, including five young Irish nationals, were killed and seven more hurt when a fifth-story balcony collapsed in Berkeley early Tuesday. City officials say they are investigating the cause of the collapse.

The building is managed by Greystar Management. A call to company officials was not immediately returned.

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2:15 p.m. PDT

The Irish Consul General says a fatal balcony collapse in California that killed six young people is a national tragedy for his country.

Five 21-year-old Irish students who were in the U.S. on work visas were killed early Tuesday along with a young Northern California woman when a fifth-floor balcony collapsed with a loud crack, spilling 13 partygoers onto the pavement below.

Seven partygoers remained hospitalized with serious injuries after the incident near the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

Consul Philip Grant says hundreds of Irish college students obtain temporary U.S. visas annually to spend the summer working and playing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Grant estimates there are currently 700 Irish college students living and working in the region this summer. Relatives of some of the victims are expected to arrive later Tuesday.

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1:30 p.m. PDT

Five of the six young people who died in a California balcony collapse were from Ireland and the other from California.

The Alameda County coroner identified the victims Tuesday.

They are 22-year-old Ashley Donohoe of Rohnert Park, California; 21-year-old Olivia Burke; 21-year-old Eoghan Culligan; 21-year-old Niccolai Schuster; 21-year-old Lorcan Miller; and 21-year-old Eimear Walsh, all from Ireland.

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This story corrects spelling of victim's name to Olivia Burke instead of Oliva, per the coroner.

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9:30 a.m.

A company that sponsored a trip by Irish students who were killed in the collapse of a crowded balcony in California is expressing condolences.

USIT Ireland, a Dublin-based organization that helps Irish students enter the United States on exchange visas, says it is working with government officials in Ireland who have set up a special crisis center to deal with the tragedy.

Six people have died and seven others were seriously injured when the fifth-floor balcony fell early Tuesday in Berkeley, California.

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This story has been corrected to say the balcony was on fifth floor instead of fourth floor.

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9 a.m.

A coroner says a sixth person has died after a balcony crammed with people celebrating a 21st birthday collapsed at a housing complex in the college town of Berkeley, California.

The Alameda County coroner did not release any more details about the latest fatality. At least five of the dead people were students from Ireland who were in the U.S. on work visas.

Other people were seriously injured.

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8:30 a.m.

Building inspectors have barred people from using the remaining balconies in a California apartment complex where five Irish students were killed and eight others were seriously injured when a balcony collapsed overnight.

Berkeley police spokesman Byron White said Tuesday that authorities want to inspect the remaining balconies for safety.

The apartment complex is a popular residence for University of California, Berkeley students. The building is about two blocks from campus.

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8:10 a.m.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny says police told him there were 13 people on a balcony in Berkeley, California, when it collapsed.

Five people were killed and eight seriously injured Tuesday when the accident occurred during a 21st birthday party.

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8:05 a.m.

Two Irish students asleep in the building said they heard a bang as a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California, and five Irish students in the U.S. on work visas were killed.

"I walked out and I saw rubble on the street and a bunch of Irish students crying," said Mark Neville, who has been in the U.S. for three weeks under the J-1 visa program.

"I just heard a bang and a lot of shouting," added Dan Sullivan, 21.

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7:10 a.m. PDT

Police say they received a noise complaint about a loud party about an hour before a balcony collapsed at a Berkeley, California, apartment building, killing five Irish students in the U.S. on work visas.

Eight other people were injured in the incident that occurred during a 21st birthday party.

Officer Byron White, a spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department, says officers had not yet responded to the complaint before the collapse at 12:41 a.m. PDT

The balcony, estimated to have been 5 feet by 10 feet, separated completely from the building and landed on a lower balcony.

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5:50 a.m. PDT

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan told reporters in Dublin that all five of those killed when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California, were Irish students in the U.S. on temporary visas. He said a 21st birthday party was underway in the building at the time of the accident.

Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said it was attempting to contact families of the victims and could not give details of their identities.

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5:25 a.m. PDT

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan says he believes all five of those killed in a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, are Irish. He said four died at the scene and one in a hospital

Irish President Michael D. Higgins said in a statement that he had "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. My heart goes out to the families and loved one's of all those involved."

The building in the heart of downtown Berkeley has apartments in the upper floors and retails shops at ground level. The walkable neighborhood just blocks from the University of California, Berkeley, is dotted with museums, restaurants, coffee shops and chain stores.

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1145 GMT (4:45 a.m. PDT)

The Irish government says several young Irish citizens have been killed in a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement that "a number of young Irish citizens have lost their lives" and several others have been seriously injured.

He said, "my heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the deceased and those who have been injured in this appalling accident."

Flanagan said the Irish consul general in San Francisco would be providing assistance to those affected.

Police say five people were killed and eight injured — many of them critically — when an apartment building balcony collapsed early Tuesday in Berkeley.