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Ireland in shock at tragic balcony deaths

Ireland is “frozen in shock” after six students plunged to their deaths when a balcony collapsed during a 21st birthday party in the US.

A number of them were students at University College Dublin and had gone to Berkeley, California, to start a dream trip on popular summer working holiday visas.

They were named as Ashley Donohoe, 22, and Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, who were all 21.

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Donohoe was an Irish-American from Rohnert Park, California, while the others lived in Ireland.

They died from multiple blunt traumatic injuries when they plunged 12 metres to the ground.

Another seven were seriously injured in the incident and remain in hospital.

In a twist of fate, local police had received a call to reports of noise from the apartment shortly after midnight local time, but diverted to an emergency after a reported shooting in the city was prioritised.

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Seven others were seriously injured in the collapse. Photo: Getty

The balcony collapsed less than 45 minutes later.

Philip Grant, consul general with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in the region, said the tragedy had touched everyone in Ireland.

“For many of my countrymen (the visa working holiday) is a formative experience and to have this happen at the start of this season is something that has left us all frozen in shock and disbelief,” he said.

“We are a very close, tight-knit group. Ireland is a small country and when you have the numbers that we had here today, very few of us have been left untouched by this tragedy.”

It is believed there were 13 Irish students on the fourth floor of an apartment complex in the college city shortly after midnight when it came apart from the building.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny told parliament 13 people had been on the balcony at the time, citing police.

“My heart breaks for the parents who have lost children,” he said.

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