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Balcony student wakes from coma

Published 09/07/2015

Police tape blocks off a section of Kittredge Street in front of the apartment building where balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California (AP)
Police tape blocks off a section of Kittredge Street in front of the apartment building where balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California (AP)

A student seriously injured after a balcony collapsed while she celebrated her 21st birthday in the United States has started to wake from a coma.

Six students plunged to their deaths from the fifth storey of an apartment complex in Berkeley, California, last month while attending Aoife Beary's party.

Ms Beary suffered a serious head injury but has started to communicate with her parents and medical team in hospital in Stanford.

The 21-year-old from Dublin had successful heart surgery 10 days after the incident and is continuing to make progress, her family said.

In a statement posted online last night, they wrote: "Aoife is still in the ICU but is no longer on the critical list.

"She has slowly started to awaken from the induced coma - this process is expected to take some time.

"Aoife has also started some communication with her parents and the medical team. She has had a tracheotomy within the last week and continues to make progress on her long road to recovery."

The five Irish students who died were all from south Dublin - medical students and friends Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh; Olivia Burke, who went to school with Eimear; Niccolai Schuster, who was at the same college as Lorcan and Eimear, and his friend from school Eoghan Culligan.

Irish-American Ashley Donohoe, who lived in California and was a cousin of Olivia's, also died.

The students were on J1 working visas for the summer and were among 40 people attending the birthday party.

New safety rules for buildings in the university city were drawn up after investigations found severe dry rot in the balcony which collapsed.

Officials said exterior wooden beams on the apartment had been extensively weather-damaged and said emergency orders had been set out to enhance the safety of all new and existing buildings in the city.

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