Tributes were paid today to a teenager who died when a cave roof collapsed during a camping trip in Shropshire.
Sixteen-year-old Aiden Brookes was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital after the incident at the Hermitage Caves, near Bridgnorth, at around 1.50am.
An 18-year-old local woman was also injured in the collapse, sustaining back, neck and rib injuries. Her condition is described as serious but not life-threatening.
Aiden, of Paulbrook Road, Bridgnorth, was a sixth-form student at Oldbury Wells School in the town. Headteacher Sarah Godden said: "The whole school is shocked and saddened by this tragic accident.
"Our thoughts are with Aiden's family and friends and everyone connected with the incident at this very difficult time.
"Aiden was an excellent student and was popular with staff and pupils and will be sadly missed."
West Mercia Police said it was believed that a group of youngsters had lit a fire while camping in the sandstone cave.
A force spokesman said: "At this stage we are trying to establish exactly what happened, but it seems that a quantity of rocks and rubble fell on those inside when part of the cave collapsed.
"It appears to be a tragic accident."
The spokesman added: "Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with a small fire inside the cave. The area has now been sealed off and the Health and Safety Executive informed."
Meanwhile, five friends of the dead teenager, three youths and two teenage girls, visited the caves to lay flowers. One of the youths said Aiden's wide circle of friends were all "absolutely gutted" to have lost someone who brought a smile to everybody.
"There are no words to say how we feel," he said. "He loved his rugby and he was a lovely lad. He will be hugely missed - he was funny and always made everyone laugh."
Michelle Brotherton, West Midlands Ambulance Service's divisional commander for Shropshire, said Aiden had gone into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing after the rock-fall.
Ms Brotherton said a crew arrived at the scene eight minutes after the initial 999 call, which was made from a mobile phone, and managed to navigate the steep terrain and get to the patient within a further four minutes.
Paramedics found an emotional scene and immediately took over attempts to resuscitate Aiden from his friends, who had been given instructions by an ambulance service operator.
"Obviously, if you can imagine, it was very dark and you had teenagers quite traumatised by what had happened," Ms Brotherton said. "Despite the best efforts of
everybody, including the friends, unfortunately there wasn't a positive outcome."
A Facebook page set up in tribute to Aiden has already attracted more than 150 members. One posting on the site read: "Aiden was a great friend, an amazing rugby player and a good corporal at cadets.
"I have never met a nicer person in my life. He will be missed by all of his friends very much and we shall never forget him."
Friend James Harrison wrote: "Such a great guy, surely will miss him, a supportive soul for his family and his friends, and greatly admired within the Air Cadets and from School."
Another friend, Keely Sheridan, added: "Aiden, it is true some people are just too good for this world.
"We all had, and remain to have, so much respect for you as a human being. This is so tragic, you are a brilliant person whose light shone so brightly but all too briefly upon the world. We all love and will miss you Aiden x x "
Jamie Davies wrote: "He was one of the only people I knew that was always able to put a smile on someone's face, regardless of the circumstances.
"He was a great guy, who made an impact on everyone who knew him. He will be missed greatly, and will never be forgotten."
At the scene today, accessed by steep footpaths from the nearby road, the remains of the camp-fire could still be seen near the rubble which killed the teenager.
Half-filled bottles of Coca-Cola and empty cans of bitter and lager were strewn on the floor of the caves, and items discarded by paramedics as they battled to save the victim could also be seen.
A sign marked "Danger - Keep Out" was suspended on wire around 15ft in front of the series of three caves, which are located to the east of the town.