Updated: 7: 30 PM New York Time
The names of the injured Irish students, aged between 20 and 22, have been confirmed by the Irish Independent as:
- Clodagh Cogley
- Hannah Waters
- Niall Murray
- Sean Fahey
- Jack Halpin
- Conor Flynn
- Aoife Beary
4:40pm: Six Irish students have been named as those killed in the balcony collapse in Berkeley in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
In a press conference between the local police department, Mayor of the City of Berkeley and Consul General of Ireland to Western United States, Philip Grant, it was revealed that six young Irish students lost their lives in the accident.
They have been named as Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; Eimear Walsh, 21; and Ashley Donohue, aged 22.
Ashley Donohue, a cousin of fellow victim Olivia Burke, is Irish-American and currently resides in Santa Rosa in the Bay Area.
The families of the victims have all been informed and are currently making plans to travel to Berkeley.
Speaking at the start of the press conference, Grant asked that the privacy of the victims' families be respected as they travel to the US.
He announced that grief counselors are being put into hospitals to help deal with the tragedy.
Grief counsellors are being put into the hospitals. Seven hundred Irish students in San Francisco at the present time.— Ronan McGreevy (@RMcGreevy1301) June 16, 2015
Very few of us have been left untouched by this tragedy," says Irish consul to SF #pressconferenceberkeley— Ronan McGreevy (@RMcGreevy1301) June 16, 2015
Grant thanked the people of Berkeley for the support they had shown to the Irish people throughout the day and thanked all the emergency services that came to the scene. "Our hearts are breaking," he said, "...but we couldn’t have asked for a warmer support network."
Police confirmed that there are a further seven people currently injured in hospital, although they could not release any details on their condition.
They were also able to confirm that they had received a noise complaint about the apartment at 12.02am, not long before the balcony collapsed, although they were not able to say if any of the students had been on the balcony at this time.
The building is owned by a company named Blackrock. Police will make further details about the company available in the future.
The owner of the building is a company called Blackrock. Apparently the company has a poor response to tenant complaints about properties— Ronan McGreevy (@RMcGreevy1301) June 16, 2015
The records of tenant complaints against Blackrock will be made available to the media. There is no requirement for balcony capacity.— Ronan McGreevy (@RMcGreevy1301) June 16, 2015
The full press conference can be heard here.
3:45pm: The City of Berkeley has released its official response to the balcony collapse tragedy.
The statement reads:
"Early Tuesday morning a balcony at 2020 Kittredge in Berkeley collapsed, leading to the tragic deaths of six individuals and injuries to 7 more. City of Berkeley staff from Police, Fire and Building & Safety have been responding to the incident and taking all necessary steps to safely secure the area and investigate the cause.
"The injured were transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, and John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Due to privacy concerns, the City cannot release the names of the injured.
"The Alameda County Coroner's Bureau will release the names of the deceased when their identities have been confirmed and next of kin have been notified.
"Building inspectors visited the building at 2020 Kittredge Street early Tuesday morning. The balcony for the affected unit, as well as the three other similar balconies in the building, have each been red-tagged, prohibiting access to those areas. The City has ordered the property owner to immediately remove the failed balcony and to perform a structural assessment of the remaining balconies within 48 hours. The building finished construction in January 2007.
"A number of those affected by the incident were visiting students from Ireland. The City is working closely with the Consulate General of Ireland, which has established a crisis line for families seeking information: 011-353-1418-0200.
"A press conference will be held at 1:00 p.m. today on the back patio of Berkeley City Hall, 2180 Milvia Street."
Irish students continue to lay flowers and flags to honor the victims.
3:15pm: The Department of Foreign Affairs has now confirmed that all families of the victims have been informed.
The LA Times have released text acquired from the 911 audio tapes describing the scene of confusion and horror as an overcrowded balcony collapsed in Berkeley in the early hours of the Tuesday morning killing 6 Irish students.
The audio initially reports that ten people fell from a balcony on the second or third floor. Later the audio confirms the collapse on the 4th floor and calls a code "10-55" which denotes a case for a coroner.
“Chief, we have three 10-55s, seven additionally transported to various hospitals. Ahh what do you think about having an investigator come in,” a firefighter says. “I’ll wait until you get here and we could talk face-to-face.”
The LA Times also spoke to Jason Biswas, a 16-year-old High School student who lives in the building.
He said: “We thought it was an earthquake until we looked out the window. I looked down and it was just death. I didn't know what was going on.
“There were about 12 bodies on the ground and one girl was on the curb,” he said. “There was lots of blood and debris. Then about 10 ambulances came."
3:00pm: The Irish Times spoke to preservation expert, Carrie Olson, who recalls assessing the Library Gardens building where the accident occured when it came up for municipal approval.
She believed that the balconies where not constructed to hold large numbers of people. (It is believed that 13 people were on the balcony at the time of collapse.)
On reviewing a picture of the incident for the San Francisco Chronicle, Gene St. Onge, an Oakland civil and structural engineer, “This appears to be a classic case of there being inadequate waterproofing at the point where the deck meets the house."
Although stressing to point out that this did not count as a proper assessment, he continued to say: "If the waterproofing is substandard, rainwater can enter the building, causing dry rot, which can destroy the wood members within a short time, i.e. only a few years from construction.”
2:30pm: Officials believe that there were 13 people on the balcony at the time of collapse.
Speaking to the SFGate, Kevin Byrne, Ireland’s vice consul in San Francisco said, “They were working in the Bay Area, places like Pier 39.”
Byrne also confirmed that he and fellow diplomats had been on the telephone counseling relatives and friends and relaying information from police and doctors. As of yet, none of the victims has been identified although officials will hold a news conference at 1pm PDT today.
“This is a very difficult time for all of us, as you can imagine,” Byrne continued. “The Irish community has been very, very supportive. We’re getting nothing but help from everyone.”
According to the consulate, this year there are about 750 Irish university students spending this summer in the Bay Area under the J-1 program. The victims were set to complete the final session of their J-1 orientation with the Irish Pastoral Immigration Center in Berkeley tomorrow, June 17.
In all, Byrne told the SFGate, there are about 6,000 such students in the U.S. during the summer.
Lyanne Melendez of ABC7 News spoke to Co. Wexford student Andrea Gainford who heard sirens following the collapse.
Andrea Gainford of Wexford heard the sirens following balcony collapse. Then texts came in from family in Ireland. pic.twitter.com/HSg2W5SLHG— Lyanne Melendez (@LyanneMelendez) June 16, 2015
2:00pm: Officials will hold a 1pm PDT news conference (4pm New York, 9pm Dublin) regarding the balcony collapse.
A crane is now in place beside the building and it is believed that first attempts will be made to get near to the fallen balcony.
A crane is now in place- looks like they will soon make first attempts to get near the Berkeley Balcony that fell. pic.twitter.com/rpCaO1BuHE— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) June 16, 2015
ABC7 News report that there are still seven injured Irish students being treated at John Muir, Eden Med. Ctr. & Highland hospitals. Their injuries are believed to be serious to critical.
Father McBride from the Irish Pastoral Immigration Center is in Highland Hospital to counsel those affected by the tragedy.
Father McBride from Irish Pastoral Immigration Ctr. Here counseling Irish students affected by tragedy pic.twitter.com/skVZHHBhyQ— Janet O (@JanetONews) June 16, 2015
1:25pm: Anne Anderson, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States has released a statement expressing her sympathy to the victims families and her sorrow at the young lives cut short: “It is heartbreaking to think of these bright young lives cut short. All our thoughts are with the bereft families, and with those seriously injured and their loved ones.”
1:10pm: Local Irish are among the first to lay flowers for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse.
12:50pm: An emergency response line has opened for anybody concerned about their family or friends in the area. If you are worried about somebody you know in the region, please contact 01-418 0200.
A book of condolences for the victims will open at the Manison House in Dublin this Thursday and Friday. The public can sign the book between 10am and 4pm.
12:05pm: The Irish Times has reported that four of the Irish students died at the scene of the tragic accident. They also believe that two of the three women who died were cousins, one an Irish citizen and the other American.
Seven others are being treated in hospital. Two of these are in critical condition.
Tributes to the victims are beginning to appear at the scene.
Memorial where 6 people died overnight after a balcony in Berkeley collapsed. Victims were celebrating a 21st b-day. pic.twitter.com/bSEuVqvuOj— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) June 16, 2015
11:50am:The death toll in the collapse of the Berkeley apartment block has risen to six.
It has been confirmed that six Irish J-1 students have been killed while nine others have been seriously injured after the balcony they were holding a 21st birthday party on, on Kittredge Street, Berkeley, California collapsed.
BREAKING: Coroner has been called 2 the hospital for a second victim, which would bring the death toll of the Berkeley balcony collapse to 6— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) June 16, 2015
11:26am: Irish leader Enda Kenny lead the Dáil (Parliament) today with expressions of sympathy with the dead and injured following the balcony collapse in Berkeley.
Kenny confirmed that information suggests all those involved were Irish.
“It is truly terrible to have such a serious and sad incident at the beginning of a summer of adventure and opportunity for so many young people on J1 visas in the United States.
He continued "My heart breaks for the parents who lost children this morning and I can only imagine the fear in the hearts of other parents, who have children in California this summer, as they seek to contact them now."
11:07am: The Associated Press reports that the police had recieved a noise complaint about a loud party at the apartment at the Library Complex, on Kittredge Street, about an hour before the collapse occurred, at 12:41am. The police had not responded when the tragedy occured.
Officer Byron White, spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department, said "What the first responders said is it was quite disturbing.
"Anytime you have a tragedy like this it's quite awful."
Mark Neville, another Irish student who had been asleep in the building when the accident occurred said "I walked out and I saw rubble on the street and a bunch of Irish students crying."
10:48am: A 21-year-old student living in the Kittredge Street, Berkeley, apartment block has spoken to the Oakland Tribune. Dan Sullivan (21), who arrived to the US three weeks ago, lives on the first floor.
He said "We just heard a bang in the middle of night and shouting."
Sullivan said he knew someone who was at the party.
"It's just a shocker, it's crazy," said Sullivan.
The student, who is working as a laborer, said some of the other students in the complex were also working in construction and others in local restaurants.
10:41am: Irish students huddle together outside Highland Hospital, Berkeley.
10:06am: A Berkeley local drove some of the victims to the hospital. Gerald Robinson of Berkeley told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had just left a movie and was in his car when a young man and woman with blood on them flagged him down.
He drove them to Highland Hospital, in Oakland, and stayed with them for about an hour.
“They were distraught. They were hanging on each other for comfort,” said Robinson (65).
Robinson said the two Irish students had told him they were celebrating a 21st birthday when the balcony collapsed. Preliminary reports state that there were 14 people on the balcony at the time.
Robinson said, “They were having a party — suddenly it went down. It came down really fast and chucked everybody off.”
10:02am: Minister Flanagan said the government the identity of those killed or injured as some of the victims' families have not been notified. He said the process of contacting their families is being done as quickly as possible.
It is being reported that those injured have been taken to three hospitals in the Berkeley area.
9:35: Ireland's President Michael D Higgins has sent a sent a message of condolence to the families of those effect.
He said: "I have heard with the greatest sadness of the terrible loss of life of young Irish people and the critical injury of others in Berkeley, CA today.
"My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all those involved. I have been informed of the consular assistance being provided to assist all of the families involved and I have asked to be kept informed as further details emerge."
9:32: An Irish student who is living in the apartment block where the balcony collapsed killing five and seriously injuring eight others said that the balcony was only big enough for six people.
Speaking to the Herald, James Mullaney (20) described the horror after the balcony of the 176-apartment block, on Kittredge Street, Berkley, collapsed.
“We’re overlooking the street. We just heard a lot of noise. We were asleep and woke up with the noise of the sirens, there were emergency crews everywhere and TV crews."
“Right now, there are police across the street and people setting up TV cameras. But the road is not closed.”
“As soon as I saw all the emergency services, I just texted my mother to say ‘in case you hear anything, I’m grand.’ She knew as soon as I woke up that I was OK.”
9:30am: It's believed that the balcony fell 40 feet to the footpath below. It has not been confirmed if all those injured and killed we on the balcony at the time of its collapse.
7:36am: U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, has released a statement expressing his deepest sympathies to the families of those who died.
"I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy and condolence to the families, loved ones, and friends of the Irish students who lost their lives this morning in Berkeley California.
"All of us at the United States Embassy are greatly saddened by news of this tragic incident and are ready to do whatever we can to assist the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs at this difficult time. We will continue to coordinate as more details become available.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, loved ones, and friends at this difficult time."
7:32am: Irish Consul in San Francisco reports that those on the balcony were between the ages of 20 and 22.
7:30am: It has been confirmed by the Irish government that a number of Irish citizens are among those who killed following the collapse of a balcony in Berkeley, California, near San Francisco.
Reports suggest that a 21st birthday party with many J-1 Irish students was taking place at the Kittredge Street apartment building, not far from UC Berkeley campus.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs released this statement: “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 balcony in Berkeley, California earlier today.”
According to local Fox news five people have been killed and eight others are confirmed injured following the collapse that took place shortly before 1am on Tuesday (June 16).
Spokesperson for the police Officer Jennifer Coats confirmed that a fourth floor balcony of an apartment building on Kittredge Street collapsed.
"We don't know what happened. Officers on scene talking with people," she said, in a phone interview with the Associated Press.
She also said he did not have information on the identities of the victims, including their ages and gender.
Coats added, "We don't have a lot of specific detail at this point because they (investigators) are still trying to work through it all.”
Minister Flanagan also added “My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the deceased and those who have been injured in this appalling accident.
"My Department in Dublin stands ready to provide all possible consular assistance to the Irish citizens affected by this tragedy."
The Irish Consul General in San Francisco is in close contact with the authorities and will be providing assistance to those on the ground.
Anyone with concerns about friends or family in the region, should call the Emergency Consular Response Team on +353-1-418 0200.