Vigil, mass for US balcony fall victims

Posted February 14th, 2019 by admin and filed in 杭州夜生活
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Hundreds of Irish students, and friends and relatives of those killed or injured in a balcony collapse in the US have held an emotional candlelit vigil.


One block from where the tragedy struck at a 21st birthday party in Berkeley, California, a park bench became the focal point for prayers and an outpouring of grief.

Candles, flowers and pictures of the six dead formed a memorial in Martin Luther King Jr Civic Centre Park, the main park in the college city, surrounded in a large circle by those who organised the prayers, some of those who were at the party and a small number of family members who had flown in from Ireland.

A deep feeling of solidarity with those affected by the tragedy was demonstrated by the attendance of hundreds of other students who had no connection to the dead and injured other than to be in the San Francisco Bay area for the northern summer.

A special mass was held around the same time at Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland led by Bishop of Oakland, California Michael Barber, and where Father Aidan McAleenan said relatives were focused on their loved ones and not the cause of the tragedy.

“At the end of the day what they want the most is to see their loved ones,” he said.

Others at the park vigil had employed some of the J1 students caught up in the disaster while others had been wakened by the emergency response or phone calls from concerned parents in the middle of the night.

Rotted wooden beams are the likely cause of the balcony collapse that killed the students, the US city’s mayor Tom Bates said on Wednesday.

The victims – five from Ireland and one from California – plunged to their deaths from the fourth storey of the apartment complex at Library Gardens in the university city’s Kittredge Street.

They included Ashley Donohoe, 22, from California, and her 21-year-old cousin Olivia Burke from south Dublin.

A funeral is planned for the cousins in California before Burke’s body is brought home.

The other victims from Ireland were Eimear Walsh, Lorcan Miller, Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan.

They were all 21 and in the US on J1 working visas for the summer and were among 40 people attending the birthday party in the early hours of Tuesday.

The first groups of parents arrived in San Francisco overnight to begin the unenviable task of visiting hospitals and mortuaries where their sons and daughters lie.

Another balcony at the apartment complex has since been deemed “structurally unsafe” and a “collapse hazard”. The owners have been ordered to demolish it.

Two other balconies were sealed off or “red-tagged” as tests continue.

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