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'It's such a sad time, I feel it all over the country' - Enda Kenny

The Taoiseach says he intends to meet the bereaved families whenever it is appropriate to do so.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 1.55pm 

THE FAMILIES OF the six students killed when a balcony collapsed in the Californian city of Berkeley have laid flowers at the scene.

It was the first visit to the Kittredge Street for many of the family members, who were accompanied by Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

RTÉ reports that Deenihan was “visibly emotional” during a speech at the site, during which he called the students “not just a loss to their families, but to the future of Ireland”.

Separately, the Taoiseach said today he intends meet with the bereaved families whenever it is appropriate, noting he did want a planned ecumenical service near the Dáil not to overlap with the funerals.

“It’s such a sad time, I feel it all over the country really, from young people,” Enda Kenny told a press conference at the conclusion of the British-Irish Summit at Dublin Castle.

This afternoon a memorial service for the victims of the tragedy is taking place at UCD, where three of the dead were students. It is being attended by President Michael D Higgins.

pastedimage-92419-543x500-3 Eoghan Culligan, Eimear Walsh, Nick Schuster (top row), Olivia Burke, Lorcán Miller and Ashley Donohoe Source: Thejournal

Niccolai Schuster (21), Eoghan Culligan (21), Eimear Walsh (21), Olivia Burke (21), Ashley Donohoe (22) and Lorcan Miller (21) were celebrating a 21st birthday party on Monday night when they were killed by the collapse of a fourth-floor balcony.

A funeral for Ashley Donohoe, an Irish-American, will be held in California tomorrow, while arrangements are made to bring the bodies of the other five victims home.

Books of condolence have been signed across the country and an online fundraising campaign has raised €108,000 for the families.

The autopsies results were released yesterday.

Documents

Berkeley Balcony Collapse Source: AP/Press Association Images

The investigation into what caused the collapse is ongoing and the City of Berkeley is set to release documents relating to the Library Gardens building.

Experts and city officials have said the balcony might have snapped off because supports had dry rotted, a problem that structural engineers say can be prevented through proper construction and maintenance aimed at sealing out water.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said rotted wooden beams might have caused the collapse. He later said the theory was speculation and a cause had not been officially determined.

A spokesman for the city, Matthai Chakko, told the Los Angeles Times that an investigation was under way and that inspectors were looking into the state of the building, which was only finished in 2007.

Results would not be available for several days, he said.

- with Hugh O’Connell and AFP reporting

Read: Ireland rallies around to support families of Berkeley tragedy

Read: Collapsed balcony that killed six was ‘meant for decoration’ claims former city official

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