Afghan children pictured before embarking on doomed migrant boat

The child sisters who died trying to reach Europe: Afghan girls, just seven and 17, are pictured before embarking on doomed migrant boat that sank off Italy, claiming 66 lives

  •  At least 66 people died after a wooden boat carrying around 200 sank near Italy
  •  The coastguard yesterday reported 80 had been found, with many still missing

These two sisters were among the child victims of the migrant boat disaster off the Calabria coast of Italy, MailOnline has learned.

The pair, seven-year-old Yayeshi and her 17-year-old sister Marian, both drowned when the wooden boat they were trying to cross the Mediterranean in broke apart during the perilous journey from Turkey.

Their heartbroken mother who survived the boat wreck said today: ‘I tried to save them but the sea snatched them from my hands.’

The mother, named Leila, briefly spoke to MailOnline today from her hospital bed.

Recalling the horror moment when she saw her two daughters perish, she said: ‘I never thought I’d see my girls die before my eyes….drowned. A few metres from the coast.’

Speaking from Crotone Hospital, Leila said she had desperately tried to save all her three children but couldn’t save the girls.

‘I couldn’t do anything to save them,’ she sobbed. ‘They went down into the waves.’

Martin Safar (L) remains in hospital. His sister Marian Safar (CL) died aged 17. Mother Leila (CR) also remains in hospital. Yayeshi Safar (R) died aged seven.

Marian Safar, who has died aged 17 There are fears more than 100 people, including children, have died after their boat sank off Crotone southern Italy

Pictured: coffins of migrants at the PalaMilone sports complex in Crotone

She said they had been on the boat because they were seeking a new life in Europe after her husband was killed by the Taliban several years ago.

The traumatised mother was today being comforted by a cousin who had arrived at a sports hall in the town of Crotone where the bodies of 64 victims had been placed to allow relatives to view them before burial.

READ MORE: Twelve children including a newborn baby are among at least 59 people dead after wooden sailing boat carrying migrants from Turkey to Europe crashed against rocks near the southern Italian coast


Clutching a photograph of his relatives Mohammed Djafari revealed that the two girls had both drowned but only the older sister’s body has been recovered.

The girls are among five known child victims of the boat tragedy.

The others are seven year old Muzamel Qasimi from Afghanistan and 18-month-old Tembrey Hasbif, also from Afghanistan. 

No pictures have yet emerged of either Muzamel or Tembrey.

The fifth child victim is an as yet unidentified new born baby.

Djafari said the two sisters were part of a group of four with Leila who had been living in Istanbul for the last three years and has saved enough money to pay people smugglers to take them on the 1,200 mile boat trip to Italy. 

He revealed they had paid 8,000 euros (about £7,000) for the passage.

He said the other child who survived was his second cousin Martin, aged 10, who like his mother is being treated in hospital.

Djafari, who had travelled from his adoptive home in Germany, was outside the sports hall waiting to see the body of his teenage cousin.

The body of seven-year-old Yayeshi has yet to be recovered from the sea where authorities believe there are at least another 20 victims.

He said their final destination was to have been Germany where other members of the extended family including himself now live.

Speaking in German, Djafari said he had driven from Germany as soon as he heard about the boat disaster.

He was aware that they were on the 20m long wooden boat called Summer Love having spoken to his sister before she set off on the journey along with up to 200 other migrants seeking a new life in Europe.

‘I drove my car in the hope that the children are alive. I now know that Marian is inside the hall in a coffin and I want to see her. The seven year old is still missing, and I just keep up hope but I know in my heart that she is gone.

‘I spoke to Leila and she said she grabbed her son’s hand and was able to save him. She could not save them all.’

Image shows part of a broken boat and other debris washed up on the shore in Cutro 

Debris washed ashore by sea at a beach near Cutro, southern Italy, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023

Image shows a life jacket washed up on the beach in southern Italy after the boat sank

The death toll in the migrant shipwreck rose to 66 overnight after the body of a child aged between seven and 10 was found along with that of a 30 year old woman.

Of the victims 24 are from Afghanistan, one from Pakistan and one from Syria.

Police have arrested three people smugglers who were identified by the survivors as they attempted to hide among those who had washed up on the beach at Steccato di Cutro.

The coffins of the victims found so far were laid out at an indoor sports hall with small white caskets for the child victims and brown wooden coffins for the adults.

A small blue plastic toy had been placed on top of the coffin of the youngest victim who is thought to be a newborn. The identity of the baby is unknown.

Small white caskets at the Crotone Palasport are used for the younger victims of the tragedy

Mourners offer prayers near the coffins of victims who died in the migrant shipwreck

Mourners react near the coffins of victims who died in the shipwreck, at the Crotone Palasport

Flowers and tributes left for victims at a sports hall in Crotone where the bodies were taken

The majority of the victims inside the Crotone indoor sports hall are unidentified.

The smallest coffin belongs to a newborn who is simply identified as a mix of letters and number- KR 0. The KR represents the town of Crotone and the zero the age

Teddy bears and other toys had been placed alongside the white coffins of the child victims. Flowers adorned all the coffins that stretched the length of the hall.

Outside the hall a small group of relatives waited their turn to be invited inside to pay their last respects.

Local dignitaries and religious leaders had earlier been allowed to walk through the hall to pay their respects.

Local school children surrounded the hall to look at the hundreds of messages of sympathy and candles that had been lit overnight.

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