Berkeley tragedy: Joint funeral for cousins Olivia and Ashley
*Vigils for the dead and injured have been taking place overnight
*Two students continue to fight for their lives
*Students' parents arrive at hospitals in wake of accident
*US official says balcony was only meant to be 'decorative'
A family that suffered two deaths in the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse will hold a joint funeral for cousins Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohue.
Dublin student Olivia (21) and her cousin and friend Irish-American citizen Ashley (22) were both killed as a result of the balcony collapse in the early hours of Tuesday morning which left six young people dead and seven more injured.
"They will have a joint funeral there and then the young woman will be buried, and then they'll bring the Irish woman home to Dublin and she will be buried in Dublin."
Two of the victims of the J1 student tragedy in California continue to fight for their lives in hospital.
Members of the local Irish-American community are providing support and transport to the families as they seek to come to terms with the trauma of the accident, which claimed the lives of six students and left another seven seriously injured.
Irish Consul to San Francisco Philip Grant is helping the families as they met with the Alameda County Coroner to prepare for the heart-breaking journey home with the bodies of their children in the coming days.
A memorial service has been held overnight at Oakland Cathedral in California for the six who died: Ashley and Olivia, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcan Miller.
Father McAleenan told more than 300 who attended: "Today the whole of Ireland embraces these families."
Seven students are still being treated in hospitals. Aoife Beary from Blackrock, Dublin, and Hannah Waters from Castleknock, Dublin, are both in a critical condition. Their parents have been by their bedsides at Oakland Hospital since arriving on Tuesday.
A candle lit vigil organised by J1 students, who had been living in the apartment block, has also been taking place this morning.
One block from where the tragedy struck at a 21st birthday party in Berkeley, California, a park bench became the focal point for prayers and an outpouring of grief.
Candles, flowers and pictures of the six dead formed a memorial in Martin Luther King Jr Civic Centre Park, the main park in the college city, surrounded in a large circle by those who organised the prayers, some of those who were at the party and a small number of family members who had flown in from Ireland.
A deep feeling of solidarity with those affected by the tragedy was demonstrated by the attendance of hundreds of other students who had no connection to the dead and injured other than to be in the San Francisco Bay area for the summer.
Meanwhile, it has emerged the balcony which collapsed causing the deaths and injuries was only originally included in the San Francisco building design as a decorative feature.
The Irish Independent has learned the balconies became the focus of a planning wrangle a decade ago between the City of Berkeley Design Review Committee and the developers, Segue Ltd.
A February 21, 2002, briefing memo about the building revealed City of Berkeley planners insisted they "need sample of balcony material" and that they would "prefer a lighter touch for two balconies on the Kittredge side".
Former Berkeley Design Review Committee official Carrie Olson, who abstained from the approval vote, said the balconies were for decorative rather than practical purposes.
"(They were) definitely not large enough to be what the city would call an 'open-space balcony', where groups of people could stand outside," she said.
Under a 57-page California planning regulation dating from 1998 and applied to the complex, it emerged the balconies were simply required to have a structural capacity to handle 28kg (60lbs) per square foot.
City official Matthai Chakko said the investigation into the tragedy was accelerating.
The City of Berkeley later confirmed a second balcony at the Library Gardens complex had now been found to be structurally unsafe and was a "collapse hazard".
BlackRock Ltd, which serves as the investment adviser for a real estate fund which owns Library Gardens, said that it was "terribly saddened by the tragic incident" and that it was in contact with the building's management company and an independent structural engineer.
The account has been established to raise funds for the students affected by the tragedy - tax-deductable donations will be used to support and assist the immediate needs of the families and students in Berkeley