Ukrainian girl who died and was found on beach 'was refugee staying with family'

A Ukrainian schoolgirl who died after being found unconscious on a beach in Devon was a refugee staying with a family, it has emerged.

Classmates paid tribute to the ‘kind and caring’ 14-year-old who died at the weekend.

Police were called to reports that the teenager – who is believed to have been staying with a local family alongside her mother – had gone missing on Saturday evening.

Searches by a police helicopter and coastguard tracked her to a beach in Dawlish, Devon.

She was then airlifted to the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, where she later died.

The girl was a Year 9 pupil at Dawlish College where grieving friends are understood to be receiving specialist support.

She has been described as a ‘kind and caring person’ by fellow school pupils.

One student told The Sun: ‘She went to my school. It’s so sad, she was a lovely girl.’

Another pupil added: ‘We just got the news at the school I go to because she was a student here and we all think it’s horrible.

‘She was such a kind and caring person and it is so sad to see her go.’

People living in the area have been left shocked by the teenager’s death.

Mayor of Dawlish Lisa Mayne said: ‘It’s absolutely devastating for people

‘You can’t put it properly into words, how it is going to affect our Ukrainian community here.

‘They have come here to find safety and now they have to come to terms with a terrible tragedy like this.

‘It’s dreadfully sad. Her family needs time to grieve and find out what happened.

Formal identification is due to take place but her next of kin have been informed.

Detective Inspector Becky Davies said: ‘We were called on the evening of Saturday 4 March with reports of a 14-year-old girl missing from the Dawlish area.

‘Localised searches took place with support from the police helicopter and coastguard and an unconscious person was found on Dawlish Beach.

‘She was subsequently airlifted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where she later sadly died. Formal identification has taken place and next of kin have been informed.’

DI Davies added: ‘The deceased girl was a Ukrainian national who was living in the Dawlish area; contact has been made with the Ukrainian Embassy and The Home Office are also aware of this incident.

‘This death is currently being treated as unexplained and enquiries continue as to the circumstances surrounding this death.

‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the teenage girl at this tragic time.’

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