These two sisters were among the minor victims of the migrant boat disaster off the coast of Calabria in 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 on the perilous journey from Turkey broke apart.
Their heartbroken mother who survived the shipwreck said today: “I tried to save them, but the sea snatched them from my hands.”
The mother, named Leila, spoke briefly to MailOnline today from her hospital bed.
Recalling the horrifying moment she saw her two daughters perish, she said, “I never thought I’d see my girls die before my very eyes… drowned.” A few meters from the shore.’
Speaking at Crotone Hospital, Leila said she had tried desperately to save all three of her children, but was unable to save the girls.
“There was nothing I could do to save them,” she sobbed. “They went into the waves.”
Martin Safar (L) remains in hospital. His sister Marian Safar (CL) died at the age of 17. Mother Leila (CR) is also still in the hospital. Yayesh Safar (R) passed away at the age of seven.
Marian Safar, who passed away at the age of 17
Pictured: Coffins of migrants at the PalaMilone sports complex in Crotone
She said they were on the boat seeking a new life in Europe after her husband was killed by the Taliban several years ago.
The traumatized mother was comforted today by a cousin who had arrived at a sports hall in the city of Crotone where the bodies of 64 victims had been placed for relatives to view before burial.
Mohammed Djafari, who was holding a photo of his relatives, revealed that the two girls had both drowned, but only the body of the elder sister has been recovered.
The girls are among the five known child victims of the boat tragedy.
The others are seven-year-old Muzame Qasimi from Afghanistan and 18-month-old Tembrey Hasbif, also from Afghanistan.
No photos have yet been published of Mucollect or Tembrey.
The fifth child victim is an unidentified newborn baby.
Djafari said the two sisters were part of a group of four with Leila who has lived in Istanbul for the past three years and has saved enough money to pay smugglers to take them on the 2,000-kilometer boat trip to Italy.
He revealed that they paid 8,000 euros (about £7,000) for the crossing.
He said the other child who survived was his second cousin Martin, aged 10, who is being treated in hospital like his mother.
Djafari, who had come over from his adoptive home in Germany, was waiting outside the sports hall for the body of his teenage cousin.
The body of seven-year-old Yayeshi has yet to be recovered from the sea, where authorities say there are at least 20 more victims.
He said their final destination would be Germany, where other members of the extended family, including himself, now live.
Djafari said in German that he drove out of Germany as soon as he heard about the boat disaster.
He was aware that they were on the 20-metre wooden boat Summer Love and had spoken to his sister before she set out on a journey with up to 200 other migrants in search of a new life in Europe.
“I drove my car in the hope that the children are still alive. I now know that Marian is in the hall in a coffin and I want to see her. The seven-year-old is still missing, and I keep hoping, but I know in my heart that she’s gone.
“I spoke to Leila and she said she grabbed her son’s hand and was able to save him. She couldn’t save them all.’
Image shows part of a broken boat and other debris washed up on shore in Cutro
Debris washed up on a beach near Cutro, southern Italy, Monday, February 27, 2023
Image shows a life jacket washed up on a beach in southern Italy after the boat sank
The death toll at 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 smugglers who were identified by the survivors as they tried to hide among those washed up on the beach of Steccato di Cutro.
The coffins of the victims found so far were set up in a covered sports hall with small white coffins for the minor victims and brown wooden coffins for the adults.
A small blue plastic toy had been placed on the coffin of the youngest victim, believed to be a newborn. The baby’s identity is unknown.
Small white coffins in the Crotone Palasport are used for the younger victims of the tragedy
Mourners say their prayers at the coffins of the victims who died in the migrants’ shipwreck
Mourners react at the coffins of victims who died in the shipwreck, at the Crotone Palasport
Flowers and tributes for victims left at a sports hall in Crotone where the bodies were taken
The majority of the victims in the Crotone indoor sports hall have not been identified.
The smallest chest belongs to a newborn identified simply as a combination of letters and numbers – KR 0. The KR represents the city of Crotone and the zero the age
Teddy bears and other toys were placed next to the white coffins of the underage 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 were previously allowed to pass through the hall to pay their respects.
Local schoolchildren surrounded the venue to watch the hundreds of condolences and candles lit throughout the night.