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Body found after search for nine-year-old whitebaiter who was swept into river

The body of a nine-year-old girl who was swept into the Hokitika River while whitebaiting on Thursday has been found this morning.

Emily Branje. Source: New Zealand Police

Emily Branje of Christchurch was swept into the river while whitebaiting on Thursday about 9.45am.

A 69-year-old man who was with her at the time was rescued.

Searches for the girl had been taking place since Thursday, with helicopters involved.

Police said this morning that her body was found near the mouth of the Grey River near Cobden.

Police said while formal identification is yet to take place they believe it is Emily.

In a statement yesterday, Emily's family said they are "in shock and grief after receiving the news yesterday about our precious only child.

"Emily had been spending school holidays with extended family in Hokitika.

"This is a tragic, incomprehensible time for us and we request privacy while we come to terms with what has happened."

Police are supporting the girl's family.