An inquest is under way into the death of a six-year-old girl, who died after choking on a piece of food at school.

Chantelle Firth, of Billingham, Teesside, was rushed to hospital after teachers tried to save her. Despite their best efforts, doctors were also unable to revive her.

Hazel Ducker, headteacher at Pentland Primary School in Billingham, where Chantelle was a pupil, said: "Chantelle was a very popular girl and our whole school community is devastated by the tragic loss of such a lovely, gentle and kind child.

"Our pupils and staff are still in a state of shock and we are working hard to support any children who have been affected during this upsetting and difficult time.

"Our thoughts and sympathy go out to Chantelle's family and we are thinking about ways in which we can all remember and commemorate her."

Flowers were left at the school gates and a series of online tributes have appeared. One said: "Woke up wishing it was a bad dream but it ain't. Love you loads. RIP angel."

Police have said that they will be launching an investigation into the girl's death.

A police spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts are with the family and we have specialist officers supporting them.

"A post-mortem examination has been conducted and the girl appears to have died after choking on a piece of food."