The body of a six-year-old girl has been found off Tenerife island six weeks after she and her sister were snatched by their father in a discovery that has shocked Spain.
Olivia and her one-year-old sister Anna were reported missing in the Canary Islands on April 27 after their father made a phone call “with a farewell tone” to his estranged wife, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil police told AFP.
The following day, a boat belonging to the father and a baby car seat were found floating in the waters off Tenerife.
On Thursday evening, search teams found a child’s body on the seabed which was later identified as the six-year-old, a spokesman said.
“The whole of Spain is in shock, said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, during a trip to Costa Rica.
Queen Letizia also expressed her sadness at the news.
Media reports said the body was found at a depth of 1,000 metres inside a bag that had been weighed down by an anchor.
Investigators are still searching for the toddler Anna and her father.
Quoting sources close to the investigation, Spanish media said the father was seen loading several bags onto his boat on the day they were reported missing.
“It was what we least expected. We were all hoping that we’d find the girls with Tomas looking after them,” Joaquin Amills, a spokesman for the family, told Spain’s public television, expressing deep sympathy for the mother, Beatriz.
“I cannot imagine the pain of the mother of Anna and Olivia who disappeared in Tenerife following this horrendous news,” wrote Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Twitter.
Equality Minister Irene Montero also expressed her shock over the discovery.
“There are no words that can help Beatriz at such a moment of terrible pain,” she tweeted.
“This violence against women who are mothers, which hits them where it hurts most, is a priority for the government.”
Official figures show that 39 minors have been killed in Spain by their fathers or by their mothers’ partners, or ex-partners, since 2013.
Several feminist groups have organised demonstrations in various Spanish cities on Friday to denounce the crime.
In Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square hundreds of demonstrators chanted slogans protesting violence against women.