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Balcony collapse in California kills at least 6 people

Published:Wednesday | June 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A fourth-floor balcony railing rests on the balcony below at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, California yesterday.

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP):

A 21st-birthday party thrown by a group of visiting Irish college students turned tragic early yesterday when the fourth-floor balcony they were crowded on collapsed with a sharp crack, spilling 13 people about 50 feet onto the pavement. Six people were killed and seven seriously injured.

Police and fire and building officials were working to figure out why the roughly 5-by-10-foot concrete-floor balcony broke loose from the side of the stucco apartment building situated just a couple of blocks from the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

High-school student Jason Biswas' family nearby was awakened by the noise.

"They thought there was an earthquake, but then we looked out the window and saw seven or eight people on the ground," the 16-year-old said. "There were piles of blood everywhere."

Noise complaint

Police received a complaint about a loud party in the apartment about an hour before the accident, but had not yet arrived when the balcony gave way just after 12:30 a.m., spokesman Byron White said. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said police told him that 13 people were on the balcony.

At least five of the dead were Irish students on so-called J-1 visas that enable young people to work and travel in the US over the summer, Ireland's foreign minister said.

In the meantime, city building inspectors barred use of the building's other balconies while they are being checked for safety.