Spanish rescuers are searching waters off the coast of Tenerife for a one-year-old girl after a body which was reportedly confirmed to be her six-year-old sister was found weighed down in the ocean.
The girls' father, Tomas Gimeno, is the main suspect in the disappearance of Olivia, 6, and Anna, 1, after failing to return them to their mother as agreed at the end of April. He is also missing.
Fingerprint checks have confirmed the body found weighed down in the sea was that of Olivia, according to judicial sources cited by El Pais newspaper.
The family lived on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where officials and a few local residents observed a minute's silence in memory of the sisters in front of the main city hall and outside other official buildings.
“All Spain is shocked, all our support for the families whose pain is absolutely unbearable and unimaginable, all our rejection of sexist violence, the vicarious violence that some still deny in our country,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday.
The body of the six-year-old was found on Thursday afternoon at a depth of 1000 metres inside a sports bag tied to an anchor, near where her father's boat was discovered drifting.
Another empty sports bag was also found, a court statement said.
Authorities were about to call off the maritime search earlier this week when they found personal belongings of the father at sea.
On the streets of Tenerife people mourned the girls.
“Every mother and grandmother feels the greatest sorrow, mainly for her (the girls' mother) … It's as if they were our own daughters or granddaughters,” said local resident Maria Victoria.
Spain's left-wing government has put women's rights at the top of its political agenda and sought to combat prevailing macho attitudes.
Almost 1100 women have been killed by partners or ex-partners since a register was created in 2003, shortly before a gender violence law was approved, while some 39 children have been killed during attacks on their mothers since 2013.
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