Spanish rescuers search sea for missing toddler after girl (6) found dead

Father main suspect in disappearance of two girls after failing to return them to their mother

Spanish rescuers were searching waters off the coast of Tenerife for a one-year-old girl on Friday after a body presumed 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, Tomás 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.

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.

"Nobody wanted to believe it," Jose Manuel Bermudez mayor of Santa Cruz de Tenerife told reporters. "Santa Cruz city council and all the citizens are heartbroken. It is unfair, brutal and totally undeserved for the girls and their families."


The body of the six-year-old, which authorities said was likely that of Olivia, was found on Thursday afternoon at a depth of 1,000m 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. “Pending more conclusive forensic medical evidence, it [the body] could almost certainly correspond to Olivia G”, the court 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 Socialist government has put women’s rights at the top of its political agenda and sought to combat prevailing macho attitudes.

Almost 1,100 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.

"He is not a lunatic murderer, but the face of machismo, a man who does not tolerate women's freedom or equality," Victoria Rosell, government representative against gender violence, told state radio RNE on Friday. – Reuters