10/08/2018 13:49 BST | Updated 10/08/2018 14:02 BST

Girl Killed In Seaside Holiday Rock Fall Was 'Light Of Our Lives' Say Devastated Family

“We cannot comprehend the enormity of this tragedy."

Harriet Forster died on Wednesday afternoon 

The family of a nine-year-old girl who died when rocks fell from a cliff in a seaside village have described her as “the light of our lives”.

The girl, who on Friday was named as Harriet Forster, died following the accident in the village of Staithes on Wednesday afternoon, North Yorkshire Police said.

The force said she was visiting with her family from their home in Oxford.

In a statement, her family said: “We cannot comprehend the enormity of this tragedy. Harriet was the light of our lives.

“We ask that you give us time as a family to support each other through our indescribable pain. Thank you.”

Officers said they are compiling a report about the circumstances of the death on behalf of the coroner.

PA Wire/PA Images
Police tape near the beach at Seaton Garth

The accident has left the traditional fishing village in shock.

Harriet is thought to have been in an area popular with rock-poolers and fossil hunters just beyond the small town beach and the eastern harbour wall.

Locals have said the cliffs are notoriously unstable with small pieces of rock often falling down the 150ft face.

The accident happened around 100 metres (328ft) beyond a prominent red sign, screwed to the rock face, which warns of the dangers of the cliffs.

But people who live in Staithes said visitors are often not aware of the constantly crumbling nature of the shale rock, saying youngsters often hack at it with hammers, looking for fossils.

Some local residents believe the recent weather had made the cliffs more unstable, especially with a long dry spell followed by heavy rain.

One woman described how she challenged a family picnicking right under the warning sign.

PA Wire/PA Images
The bottom of the cliff face near the beach at Seaton Garth in Staithes

People in Staithes on Wednesday afternoon described how the beach and surrounding areas were “teeming” with people who scattered, leaving their belongings behind, as an air ambulance approached the harbour and landed on the beach.

They also said how the narrow cobbled streets of the village quickly became clogged with a large number of fire engines and other emergency vehicles.

St Peter’s Church, in the centre of the village, was opened on Thursday for people who wanted to contemplate what happened.

Inside was a candle, a books of poems and a tribute which read: “Please remember in your prayers the young girl who died on Wednesday in a tragic accident.

“Remember also all her family and all affected by this incident.”