Missing Swiss twins last seen on ferry to Corsica

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Twin six-year-old girls missing for more than a week from their home in Switzerland were last seen on a ferry to Corsica with their now-dead father, a Marseille prosecutor said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Jacques Dallest told a news conference in Marseille that three witnesses had seen the twins on board the ferry with their father after he bought tickets in Marseille for the crossing to Propriano in Corsica.

"We know since yesterday (Tuesday) from passengers on the boat between Marseille and Propriano that he was with the little girls," Dallest told journalists.

Investigators had previously been unable to determine if the children had taken the ferry after a witness reported seeing the father buying a ticket on Monday last week.

Family members have said they fear the worst after the father, Matthias Schepp, committed suicide in southeastern Italy last Thursday, having failed to return six-year-olds Alessia and Livia to his estranged wife on January 30.

A woman in the neighbouring cabin "explained that she heard children crying in the evening and that shortly afterwards, she saw the little girls and was able to formally identify one," Dallest said.

The prosecutor said the woman had later seen "the little girls in the play room of the boat".

Dallest said investigators have drawn a blank on the girls whereabouts after the crossing. He said one witness he described as "an elderly man" had seen two children get off the ferry in Propriano with an adult but could not be sure it was the girls.

© 2011 AFP

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