Survivors of Italy's migrant shipwreck weep over their dead

Survivors of a shipwreck off southern Italy wept over their dead Wednesday, as relatives of some of the 67 people who drowned arrived from other countries to claim their loved ones.

Emergency workers continue to search for the dead, with the body of a five-year-old boy the latest to be recovered on Wednesday morning, local officials said.

Weeping women were led among the rows of coffins laid out in a sports hall in the southern Italian seaside town of Crotone, some kneeling to pray quietly, while others howled in grief.

After a group prayer, men and women hugged and caressed the flower-adorned coffins, one man sobbing as he touched a stuffed Tigger toy, while others fainted and were carried out by Red Cross workers.

Outside, relatives who had come over from countries including Germany and Austria, described final messages exchanged with loved ones who had set off on the overcrowded boat from Turkey last week.

Afghan Mohamed Djafari, who lives in Germany, told AFP his 40-year-old cousin called him just before 4am on Sunday morning.

"She said 'we're about to arrive, we see the beach, we see lights'," he said.

She then called again "and said 'please Mohamed, come help me, I have no idea what to do'," he said.

The boat broke up just off the shore in violent weather, after possibly hitting a sandbank.

Djafari's cousin survived, along with her 10-year-old son, and the pair are in hospital together.

Her 17-year-old daughter died, while her seven-year-old daughter is still missing, he said.

"I drove 22 hours by car. In the hope that the children were still alive," Djafari said.

Fourteen children were among those confirmed to have died when the overcrowded boat shattered, the interior ministry said Tuesday.

Around 80 survived, while several more are believed still to be missing.

It was one of the most tragic incidents in the central Mediterranean, which tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers cross each year hoping to find a new life in Europe.