A biologist, who lived in Kesgrave, died instantly when a cliff collapsed on him during a beach party in Madagascar, an inquest has heard.

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Nick Paige was killed along with his French colleague, Stephanie Bollard, when rock fell on to the group.

The pair were working for conservation group Blue Ventures to develop a sustainable marine environment in Andavadoaka, a fishing village.

Mr Paige, who had just been promoted and had his work extended, was on Coco beach, a site regularly used for campfires, when he was crushed to death on October 13.

The 24-year-old, who grew up in Hertfordshire, spent his last hours sitting with his friends on the beach talking about their lives and their work.

Coroner Edward Thomas told The Old Courthouse in Hatfield: “The situation is that they would normally do an evening meal on a Saturday night because they do not work on a Sunday. They were sitting around a campfire and talking about themselves and their lives and what they were doing in Madagascar.”

The group were in an area by a stone fire pit, with a fire that reached half a metre, directly under a cliff overhang.

Late into the evening, part of the cliff broke off and fell on to the group, along with foliage and a tree, leaving Mr Paige and Ms Bollard, 26, trapped and others with minor injuries. The fire was extinguished by the fall and volunteers used mobile phone lights and torches to try to find the injured.

Police later examined the scene and stated there had been no signs to suggest the area was dangerous as the stone fire pit had clearly been used many times before, there was no rock debris and the weather was good.

Mr Thomas recorded a verdict of accidental death. Signs have since been put in place, warning visitors about the danger of falling rocks. Mr Paige had previously worked in Belize and Fiji researching marine conservation for his Masters degree from Bangor University.

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