Young Spanish girl found in bag tied to anchor at bottom of the ocean, sister still missing

Olivia and Anna.
Olivia and Anna. Photo credit: SOS Desaparecidos/El Pais

Warning: This story contains details that may upset some people. 

Spanish rescuers were searching waters off the coast of Tenerife for a one-year-old girl on Friday after a body which was reportedly confirmed to be her six-year-old sister was found weighed down in the ocean to an outpouring of rage and grief on the island.

Their father, Tomas Gimeno, is the main suspect in the disappearance of Olivia, six, and Anna, one, after failing to return them to their mother as agreed at the end of April. He is also missing.

Fingerprint checks have confirmed that the body found weighed down in the sea by an anchor was that of Olivia, according to judicial sources cited by El Pais newspaper.

The family lived on Tenerife, where officials and a few local residents observed a minute of silence in memory of the sisters in front of the main city hall and outside other official buildings on the Canary Islands.

"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 during a visit to Costa Rica.

The body of the six-year-old, which authorities said was likely that of Olivia, 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 drifting.

Another empty sports bag was also found next to them, a court statement said.

The father had told his ex-partner she would never see the children again, but he would take good care of them, El Pais reported.

Investigators believe he was aided by others in a "premeditated plan to kidnap his own daughters". 

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.

In Seville, a former boyfriend of Rocio Caiz, 17, was arrested after he allegedly confessed to killing her and cutting up her body.

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.

Reuters / Newshub.