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Search spreads across Europe for missing twins

The search for missing Swiss twins spread to Corsica and southern Italy yesterday after police confirmed the six-year-old girls were on a ferry to the French island four days before their father apparently killed himself in Italy.

Marseille prosecutor Jacques Dallest said Matthias Kaspar Schepp and his daughters boarded a ferry for Propriano, in Corsica, on January 31, but authorities could not confirm that the twins ever left the boat.

But police in southern Italy, meanwhile, interviewed a coffee shop owner who reported seeing a man and his daughters who fit the description of blonde Alessia and Livia sometime last week. The bar is located in Cerignola, where Schepp was found dead on February 3.

If confirmed, the report would place the twins in Italy for the first time since they were reported missing from their home in Lausanne, Switzerland, on January 30. Police who searched the bar and took a closed-circuit video haven't commented on the claim.

A witness on the Scandola ferry reported seeing the twins, one wearing glasses, the other a large T-shirt, the prosecutor said.

It's unclear whether the girls disembarked in Corsica. One passenger aboard the ferry told police he saw a man and two girls get off the boat in Corsica, but he "was not able to identify the little girls," the prosecutor said.

Police have said previously the father was seen in Corsica and later Naples, in southern Italy, before his body was found on February 3 in Cerignola, about 110 miles (175km) east of Naples on the other side of the Italian peninsula. Police say he threw himself under a train in Cerignola.

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