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Searing image of drowned father and toddler near US border highlights plight of migrants

Warning: Some people may find an image in this story upsetting.

Searing video images of a man and his 23-month old daughter lying face down in shallow water along the Mexico bank of the Rio Grande near the US border have highlighted the perils of the latest migration crisis.

The footage shows the man's black shirt hiked up his chest, with the girl's head tucked inside and her arm draped loose around his neck, suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.

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Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, were found face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande. Source: Associated Press

Their bodies were found on Monday in shallow water along the Matamoros, the Mexico bank of the Rio Grande, across from Brownsville, in the US state of Texas.

There have been a number of other recent grim discoveries near the border such as two babies, a toddler and a woman who were found dead, overcome by the sweltering heat.

According to reporting by journalist Julia Le Duc for Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the victims were Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his young daughter, Valeria, from El Salvador.

Frustrated because his family was unable to have an opportunity to present themselves to US authorities and request asylum, he swam across the river with his child.

He set her on the US bank of the river and started back for his wife, Vanessa Avalos - but seeing her father move away, the girl threw herself into the waters, according to Le Duc.

Martinez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.

Their bodies were discovered on Monday several hundred metres from where they had tried to cross, and about one kilometre from an international bridge.

The tragic death of the father and his small child highlighted the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.

In the municipality of San Martin in El Salvador, his mother Rosa Ramirez wept as she held her granddaughter's favourite doll and stuffed animal.

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Mart nez Ram rez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico
The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Mart nez Ram rez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico Source: Associated Press

She said the last message she had received from her son was on Saturday.

"He said 'Mama, I love you'. He said 'take care of yourselves because we are fine here.' When I read that message, I don't know, it made me want to cry because I saw it as a sort of good-bye."

Authorities stand behind yellow warning tape along the Rio Grande bank where the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his nearly two-year-old daughter Valeria were found.
Authorities stand behind yellow warning tape along the Rio Grande bank where the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his nearly two-year-old daughter Valeria were found. Source: Associated Press