| 3.7°C Dublin

Picture shows remaining wooden 'stumps' of balcony following Berkeley tragedy

Close

The remaining wood from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed is shown in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The balcony broke loose from the building during a 21st birthday party early Tuesday, killing several people and seriously injuring others. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The remaining wood from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed is shown in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The balcony broke loose from the building during a 21st birthday party early Tuesday, killing several people and seriously injuring others. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

AP

Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California

Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California

REUTERS

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley

REUTERS

Workmen examine the damage at the scene of the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California

Workmen examine the damage at the scene of the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California

REUTERS

Two grief-stricken Irish students, who say they knew the victims, look on as sheriff’s deputies move the body of a friend who died in the Berkeley balcony collapse.

Two grief-stricken Irish students, who say they knew the victims, look on as sheriff’s deputies move the body of a friend who died in the Berkeley balcony collapse.

AP

<a href='http://cdn3.independent.ie/incoming/article31308295.ece/b4c2b/binary/NEWS-Berkeley-locator.png' target='_blank'>Click to see a bigger version of the graphic</a>

<a href='http://cdn3.independent.ie/incoming/article31308295.ece/b4c2b/binary/NEWS-Berkeley-locator.png' target='_blank'>Click to see a bigger version of the graphic</a>

Police hold up sheets as medical staff take away the bodies of the dead students at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley.

Police hold up sheets as medical staff take away the bodies of the dead students at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley.

AP

Stunned onlookers at the scene of the tragedy

Stunned onlookers at the scene of the tragedy

AP

Olivia Burke

Olivia Burke

Lorcán Miller

Lorcán Miller

Lorcan Miller took key positions in the school&#039;s Model United Nations St Andrew&#039;s College/PA Wire (undated photo)

Lorcan Miller took key positions in the school's Model United Nations St Andrew's College/PA Wire (undated photo)

PA

Eimear Walsh

Eimear Walsh

Eoghan Culligan

Eoghan Culligan

Ashley Donohoe

Ashley Donohoe

Niccolai Schuster

Niccolai Schuster

The remains of the damaged balcony are removed from the 4th-story apartment building in Berkeley. Photo: Reuters

The remains of the damaged balcony are removed from the 4th-story apartment building in Berkeley. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

/

The remaining wood from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed is shown in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The balcony broke loose from the building during a 21st birthday party early Tuesday, killing several people and seriously injuring others. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Investigators have begun trying to pinpoint the cause of a balcony collapse that left six people dead and seven seriously injured.

The accident happened early on Tuesday, during a 21st birthday party involving a group of young Irish and Irish-American men and women spending the summer in California.

Close

"My heart breaks for the parents," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said from Dublin.

The small fifth-floor balcony was crammed with 13 people when it broke loose from an apartment building, dumping party goers about 50 feet onto the pavement.

At least one engineer said the balcony may have been overloaded.

Five 21-year-old students from Ireland were killed, along with a young woman from California.

Close

Graphic illustrates what may have happened in the Berkeley balcony collapse

Graphic illustrates what may have happened in the Berkeley balcony collapse

PA

Meanwhile, memorials took shape on the ground below the fallen balcony, with people leaving flowers, a pack of cigarettes, a photo, condolence notes and an Irish flag.

The Irish students were in the country on what are known as J1 visas, which enable young people to work and travel in the US over the summer.

The San Francisco Bay Area is especially popular with Irish students, about 700 of whom are working and playing here this summer, according to the consul general. Many work at Fisherman's Wharf and other tourist sites.

Close

"For many of my countrymen, this is a favourite experience, and to have this happen at the start of the season has left us frozen in shock," said Philip Grant, Ireland's San Francisco-based consul general.

The dead were identified as Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, California, and Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, all of Ireland.

Investigators are expected to look at such things as whether the balcony was built to code, whether it was overloaded and whether rain or other weather weakened it.

Six Irish students have been killed following a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California.

Berkeley officials said the building code at the time of the apartment house's construction in 2007 required the balcony to hold at least 60 pounds per square foot. That requirement has since been raised to 100 pounds.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said officials have not measured the balcony and how much weight it was built to bear.

Mr Chakko also said there is no city requirement to post a weight restriction for apartment balconies.

Grace Kang, a structural engineer and spokeswoman for Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Centre at Berkeley, said the balcony looked to her to be 4x6 feet, or 24 square feet.

That would mean it should have been able to bear at least 1,440 pounds. Thirteen normal-size adults would weigh more than that.

This was the scene in Foxrock Church last night, where friends and neighbours of those who died in the Berkeley tragedy could grieve together.

"They were packed like sardines, and then they were moving," she said. When people are moving, it "may further exacerbate" the strain.

PA Media


Related Content