Nine-year-old boy dies in Malaysia hotel fall

 

A nine-year-old boy has died in a fall while on holiday in Malaysia.

Matthew Hamer, who lived in York, fell from a hotel in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

His parents, Professor Jane Hill and Dr Keith Hamer, who are academics at universities in York and Leeds, are said to still be in Malaysia.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it could not confirm details of the death due to Matthew's age, but reports suggest he fell from a window or fire escape.

"We are aware of the death of a British national and we are providing consular assistance," a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said today.

Matthew played for a junior team at Ovington Cricket Club in York.

The team's coach, Alan Fletcher, told the Yorkshire Post: "It's devastating news. He had been with us for three years and he was a smashing young lad.

"Nobody at the club can really believe it. Everyone is upset about what's happened.

"On behalf of the club I would like to extend my condolences. We are devastated at this tragic event."

The family's next-door neighbour, Paul Burland, 46, said: "We are going to miss him terribly. He was a lovely, friendly, active boy. He was a close friend to our children. We are all very sad."

The family is understood to have been taking a short holiday before Prof Hill began some research at a Royal Society field station in Borneo, where she has spent previous summers.

Prof Hill, a biologist who is currently studying the effects of climate change on tropical butterflies and other species, is a member of the Royal Society's South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme.

Her colleague and head of the Department of Biology at the University of York, Professor Deborah Smith, said: "It is with great sadness that we heard the news of Matthew's tragic death.

"The thoughts of friends and colleagues in the Department of Biology and across the university are with Jane and Keith at this terribly difficult time."

Matthew's father, a leading academic at the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, also studies climate change and is currently researching the ecology of tropical climates and rainforests.

PA

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