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Debris litters the sidewalk; shredded wood and insulation is visible from the fourth floor of a Berkeley apartment building. A balcony sits atop another. Bodies lay lifeless on the ground below. This was the scene at the Liberty Gardens apartments near the University of California’s Berkeley campus early this morning.

Police received a call about 1 a.m. that an apartment balcony had collapsed. When officers arrived, they found a fourth floor balcony disintegrated on top of a balcony on the third floor. Four people were pronounced dead at the scene; a fifth person died at the hospital. Eight others were injured, many with life-threatening wounds. The victims were from Ireland, most on a visa to participate in work-and-study based exchange visitor program. They were celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday at the time of the incident.

A similar tragedy occurred in 2003 in Chicago, where 13 people, mostly college students and young professionals, were killed when the deck they were standing on collapsed during a barbecue, 50 others were injured. An investigation found it likely crumbled under the weight of too many people. The owners were ordered to resolve code violations at that building.

Police are working with fire officials and building inspectors to try to determine what caused the incident and what the people were doing on the balcony at the time. There will be a lot of questions to ask about what happened and why?

The Library Gardens Apartments were built in 2006 and are known as a premiere choice for students, mostly international. Apartments are on the upper floors and retail shops at ground level.

Everyone at Lawsuit Financial extends their deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and sends prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured.

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