Madagascar cliff collapse death 'accidental'

Nick Paige Mr Paige studied marine conservation for a masters degree at Bangor University

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A biologist died instantly when a cliff collapsed on him in Madagascar, an inquest has heard.

Nick Paige, 24, who lived in Suffolk and grew up in Hertfordshire, was killed alongside his French colleague Stephanie Bollard, 26, in October.

They were working on a project in a fishing village and died while sitting around a campfire.

The Hertfordshire coroner said the site was regularly used for fires. He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The inquest, in Hatfield, heard the pair were part of a team of 25 people developing sustainable fishing in a village called Andavadoaka.

Overhanging cliff

Mr Paige, who lived in Ipswich, grew up in Codicote, Hertfordshire, and had studied marine conservation at Bangor University.

He had been employed by Blue Ventures, which works with local communities in threatened marine environments, since February.

On 13 October a group was sitting around a fire which was built in a stone pit under an overhanging cliff.

Part of the cliff broke off and fell on the group.

Doctors said Ms Bollard died instantly.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Paige, who was found 15 minutes after his colleague, also died instantly due to internal bleeding from his external injuries.

'Freak accident'

Another member of the group had a broken wrist.

The inquest heard the police examined the scene and said there had been no signs to suggest the area was dangerous as the stone fire pit had been used many times before.

Coroner Edward Thomas said: "They were sitting around a campfire and talking about themselves and their lives and what they were doing in Madagascar.

"[The site] had clearly been used for bonfires for many years. It makes sense that this had been done regularly."

Stanley Shek, finance director at Blue Ventures, had previously described the cliff collapse as a "freak accident".

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