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Berkeley Balcony Collapse: Mass Held for Victims of Tragedy

by The Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: Some young attendees sit in prayer during a special Mass for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse in Oakland, California
Some young attendees sit in prayer during a special Mass for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse in Oakland, California on June 17.ELIJAH NOUVELAGE / Reuters

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BERKELEY, Calif. — Hundreds attended a Mass for victims of a deadly Berkeley balcony collapse, with the Catholic priest calling on people to offer support for the families of the six young people killed and the seven injured.

Father Aidan McAleenan said Wednesday evening at Oakland's Cathedral that family members right now are focused on their loved ones rather than on the cause of the tragedy.

RELATED: Ireland 'Devastated' by Berkeley Balcony Tragedy

"We may well wonder and want to lash out and talk about the balcony and who built it," said Father Aidan McAleenan, who rushed to hospitals after hearing of the disaster. "But at the end of the day what (families) want the most is to see their loved ones. They want to touch them, they want to hold them and they want to kiss them."

Image: Some young attendees sit in prayer during a special Mass for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse in Oakland, California
Some young attendees sit in prayer during a special Mass for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse in Oakland, California on June 17.ELIJAH NOUVELAGE / Reuters

Some families arrived from Ireland and were met by representatives from the Irish Consulate. None of them apparently attended the Mass, which drew some 300 people from around the San Francisco Bay Area.

A candlelight vigil for the victims was also in Berkeley Wednesday night.

Earlier Wednesday, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said the balcony collapse appears to have been caused by rotted wooden beams. He said investigators believe the wood was not caulked and sealed properly at the time of construction and was damaged by moisture as a result.

The crowded fifth-floor balcony broke off an apartment building during a 21st-birthday party early Tuesday held by visiting Irish college students, dumping 13 people 50 feet onto the pavement.

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