The three-year-old girl who drowned in the Hawkesbury River on Tuesday has been identified.

Zeinobiyah Soetekouw, one of 11 children, had been playing on her family's yacht moored off Brooklyn, north of Sydney, when she was reported missing.

The three-year-old girl who drowned in the Hawkesbury River has been identified as one of a family of 13 living on a 7-metre yacht. Photo / Facebook
The three-year-old girl who drowned in the Hawkesbury River has been identified as one of a family of 13 living on a 7-metre yacht. Photo / Facebook

Water police located the little girl, nicknamed "Zobbie" 100 metres from the boat a short time later. She had allegedly been floating for 20 minutes.

The Soetekouws, a self-described
The Soetekouws, a self-described "large, crazy nomad family" from Tasmania, had been travelling on their seven-metre yacht, the Sumbawa, for two years. Photo / Facebook

Efforts by emergency services to resuscitate Zobbie failed. She was airlifted to the Children's Hospital at Westmead in a critical condition, but was pronounced dead after arrival.

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According to the Hornsby Advocate, mum Beccie had gone ashore at the time. It is not known if the toddler was wearing a life jacket.

Beccie and Steve Soetekouw and their children, from Tasmania, had been travelling on their seven-metre yacht, the Sumbawa, for two years.

Beccie documented their adventures on a personal blog and Facebook page, describing their clan as a "large, crazy nomad family".

Family friend Andrea Stebbins told the Seven Network the family had arranged a "buddy system".

"I know the older ones had a lot to do with the younger ones," she said, adding the tragedy was "devastating".

Pictures from the scene showed emergency services working on the little girl on the pier at Brooklyn.

Zeinobiyah Soetekouw, known as
Zeinobiyah Soetekouw, known as "Zobbie" (bottom, third from left) drowned in the Hawkesbury River on Tuesday after going missing from her family's yacht. Photo / Facebook

Paramedics who responded to the call described the scene as chaotic and emotional.

Witnesses described seeing the body of a blonde girl wearing a red dress.

"It's a gut-wrenching incident," NSW Ambulance Superintendent Jordan Emery told the Seven Network.

"These paramedics are mothers and fathers themselves, they have siblings, nephews, nieces that same age and we're not immune form that incredible suffering that accompanies jobs like this."

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.