The family of a young girl swept into a West Coast river say they are in shock and grief over their precious only child.
Emily Branje, 9, of Christchurch was swept into the water yesterday at the Hokitika River mouth.
Her family say she had been spending school holidays with extended family in Hokitika.
In a statement released through police the family said: "We are in shock and grief after receiving the news yesterday about our precious only child, Emily.
"This is a tragic, incomprehensible time for us and we request privacy while we come to terms with what has happened."
Emergency services were alerted about 9.45am yesterday that the nine-year-old was missing.
She had been whitebaiting with an elderly man when they were both caught in a current. The man was rescued.
Police and rescue teams are continuing the search today.
Yesterday, police search and rescue, the Coastguard, Land Search and Rescue, Maritime NZ and a rescue helicopter were involved in the search.