A Shropshire cave collapse that claimed the life of a 16-year-old boy was probably triggered by the heat of a camp fire, an inquest has heard.

The South Shropshire Coroner heard that Aiden Brookes was crushed by a falling boulder as he slept at the historic Hermitage Caves on the outskirts of Bridgnorth in April.

Aiden, who was attending a party along with around 20 other young people, died almost instantly from multiple injuries when he was struck by the large sandstone slab.

Coroner Anthony Sibcy was told by a geologist that a pre-existing weakness in the "shoulder" of the 1,000-year-old cave had combined with the heat of the fire to cause around 200 kg of rock to sheer away from an overhang.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Sibcy said it was more likely than not that the fire had acted as a "trigger" for the wedge of rock to fall.

In reaching his conclusions, the coroner also praised two young men who risked their lives to lift the slab off Aiden and carry him out of the cave following the "deafening" rockfall in the early hours of April 6.

Mr Sibcy heard that the pair are both in line for bravery awards for their actions, which included efforts to revive Aiden.

Earlier, friends of the keen rugby player and cricketer, who was born in Durban, South Africa, were called to give evidence to the inquest at Bridgnorth's Council Chamber.

Zakk Griffiths, who is in line for a Royal Humane Society award, told the inquest that he went into the cave with a friend following the collapse.

After helping to remove the sandstone slab from Aiden, he and another youth then lifted the teenager out of the cave before attempting to resuscitate him while paramedics were en route to the scene.

Giving evidence to the inquest at Bridgnorth's Council Chamber, 19-year-old Jessica Wright said she had also been struck by the rockfall.

Recalling the tragedy, which happened at about 2.20am, Miss Wright said: "At the point where the cave collapsed, Aiden was lying in front of the fire. He was smiling and asleep.

"I got up to change the music over when I heard this deafening rumble and I just remember falling face forward."

Philip West, who was also at the caves, said he believed Aiden had collected logs to fuel the camp fire before falling asleep near it.

"We were standing in a circle looking in towards the cave and there was a very loud bang," he said. "As that bang happened, I looked up and saw very large chunks of rock separating themselves from the roof and to the right of the cave."

Pc Philip Knock said the scene had been chaotic when he arrived just four minutes after police were alerted.

Asked to comment on the actions of those who pulled Aiden to safety and then administered first aid to him, Pc Knock said: "Everyone there that helped in some way was very brave."