Brother and sister, 7 and 10, die in tragedy after chest closed on top of them

A brother and sister aged just seven and 10 have died in a home alone horror after climbing into a chest that closed on top of them.

Police in Ukraine have not ruled out foul play and have launched a murder probe with Anna and Mikhail Presnov believed to have climbed into the family heirloom and suffocated after a latch closed preventing them from opening the heavy lid.

The tragic siblings were home alone in the village of Mykilske when their parents went to dig potatoes as seasonal workers some 18 miles away.

Parents Svetlana Presnova, 35, and Stanislav Presnov, 41, say they spoke to their children at 10am but an hour later, they did not answer the phone.

Rather than raise the alarm with neighbours they waited for their bus home in the later afternoon and began searching for the missing girl and boy.

Stanislav said: "I took a bicycle, Svetlana went on foot along the nearby streets looking for them, but there were no signs of them."

A police sniffer dog eventually directed officers back into the family home, where the police found the bodies inside the antique wooden chest.

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It had been passed from generation to generation in the family, originally as a dowry – traditionally the payment of property or money by a bride's family to the groom's at the time of marriage.

A statement from the National Police in Ukraine said: "During a search of the house, the children were found in an old chest with no signs of life.

"The forensic service is currently working at the scene.

"The circumstances are being established. Police are considering all versions of the deaths of the brother and sister.

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Dad Stanislav said: "Police say it was most likely an accident. They got inside, the chest closed and they suffocated.

"There is a bracket through which to put a padlock. The latch might close in a way they could not open it from the inside.

"But the point is that they could have lifted the lid so there was a gap for air."

Svetlana Zhigailo, the children's headteacher at school, paid tribute at the funeral.

She said: "The children loved their parents and the parents loved their children."

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