Welwyn scientist Nick Paige dies in Madagascan cliff fall

media captionNick Paige and a colleague were killed in a rock fall

A marine biologist from Hertfordshire has been killed on a beach in Madagascar after a cliff collapsed while he was sitting by a camp fire.

Nick Paige, 24, from Codicote near Welwyn Garden City, and French marine biologist Stephanie Bollard, 26, died on 13 October at Andavadoaka.

They worked for the marine conservation organisation Blue Ventures.

Stanley Shek, the company's finance director, described the rock fall as a "freak accident".

Richard Nimmo, Blue Ventures' managing director, said the company had been left shocked by the news.

He added: "An overhang above a beach site regularly used for camp fires by our team collapsed."

A third colleague received a broken wrist in the incident.

'Passionate conservationist'

Mr Paige had been employed by Blue Ventures, which works with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments, since February.

He was part of a team of 25 experts managing fisheries at the village of Andavadoaka.

Blue Ventures described Mr Paige as a "passionate conservationist".

His work ranged from monitoring the health of coral reefs in the region, to training and teaching volunteers and conservationists from around the world.

His recent work included assessing the precise timing of coral spawning. This was the first time it had been observed in Madagascar.

Mr Paige grew up in Codicote and attended Monk's Walk School in Welwyn Garden City.

He studied marine biology and oceanography at Bangor University.

Before moving to Madagascar he had worked in marine conservation in Belize and Fiji.

The Foreign Office has confirmed it is providing consular assistance to Mr Paige's family.

Mr Nimmo is flying out to Madagascar with a trauma specialist to support the team.

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