FIVE Irish students died in the US in the early hours of the morning (9am in Ireland) when an apartment balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California. Several others were brought to local hospitals. The city is among the many places in the San Francisco Bay area where the Irish gravitate for work under the J1Visa programe.
An emergency contact number – 01 4180200 – has been set up for anybody who wants to make enquiries about family and friends in the general area.
A considerable number of young people from County Clare are currently in San Francisco but, at this stage, there is not indication as to whether any were caught up in the tragedy, which occurred during a 21st birthday party on the fourth floor of the building, which is close to the university. The balcony, estimated to have been 5 feet by 10 feet, separated completely from the building and landed on a lower balcony.
President Michael D Higgins and Toaiseach Enda Kenny have issued condolences to the families of those who died. While the US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley says everyone at the US Embassy is ready to do whatever they can to help the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen said, “My prayers and thoughts are with the families of those bereaved and those injured in today’s terrible tragedy involving young Irish citizens in Berkeley, California.
“I have spoken to Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and he has informed me that his department is doing everything it can to assist the victims and their families.”