An apartment balcony crowded with birthday revelers collapsed early on Tuesday near the University of California at Berkeley, hurling five Irish college students and an American friend to their deaths and injuring seven others, authorities said.
The victims, most of whom were working in the San Francisco Bay area on temporary visas for the summer vacation, had been celebrating a friend's 21st birthday on the fourth-floor balcony when the accident occurred, according to local police and Irish government officials.Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan told a news conference about 12 hours after the collapse that there was "no indication of criminal activity or criminal intent." Authorities said they were investigating a number of factors, including the structural integrity of the balcony and whether alcohol may have played a role.
Meehan said police had received a complaint of a loud party at the residence less than an hour before the tragedy.
Thirteen people were on the small balcony when it gave way, plunging 40 feet (12 meters) to the street below, with some victims landing on top of one another, officials said. Three men and three women died, and the seven others remained hospitalized on Tuesday.