A CHILD’S body found 3,000ft under the ocean off Tenerife yesterday is “almost certainly” one of two sisters snatched by their fugitive father, authorities say.
Cops believe missing six-year-old Olivia Gimeno was dumped inside a sports bag and weighed down with an anchor. A second empty sports bag was found nearby.
It raised fears the body of Olivia’s missing sister Anna, one, was in the other holdall and may now never be found.
Beatriz Zimmerman, the anguished mother of the two girls, has been informed of the grisly discovery.
Her ex Tomas Antonio Gimeno, 37, disappeared with the girls on April 27 after failing to return them to their home in the Tenerife capital Santa Cruz in a drama which has been followed around the world.
A spokesman for the investigating magistrate said: “Pending more conclusive forensic tests, the body could almost certainly correspond to that of Olivia G, the youngster who vanished on April 27 with her one-year-old sister and their father.
“The body was found by a robot from the search vessel Angeles Alvarino at midday today around 1,000 metres below the water some three miles off the Tenerife coast.
“It was inside a sports bag attached to an anchor. Next to it was another empty sports bag.
“The body was taken to dry land for an autopsy. The vessel called Angeles Alvarino is continuing its search.”
Last night, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reacted to the tragic news, tweeting: “I cannot begin to imagine the pain of the mother of little Anna and Olivia, who disappeared in Tenerife, following the terrible news we have just heard.
“I send a hug and my love and that of my whole family, who today show solidarity with Beatriz and her loved ones.”
Jose Manuel Bermudez, the mayor of Tenerife capital Santa Cruz, announced a minute’s silence for Anna and Olivia would be held at midday tomorrow.
He said: “There are no words to express the terrible desolation I feel.
“From respect at the mother’s pain and with all the caution the terrible news that is reaching us deserves, I want to express to the family all the solidarity of the citizens of Santa Cruz.”
The Canary Islands’ president Angel Victor Torres tweeted: “Weeks hoping to receive hopeful news and today we receive the worst possible, one that freezes our soul, about the little girls from Tenerife, Anna and Olivia.
“Our condolences, encouragement and strength for their mum Beatriz, her family and friends. Canary Islands devastated.”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner Georgina Rodriguez was among those who shared a video of Olivia and Anna released by their mum as part of a huge social media campaign urging the public for help in finding them.
Beatriz said after the diving bottle was found on Monday she thought it was part of an attempt by her estranged partner to disguise his flight with the girls.
South America was highlighted as a place Gimeno could have taken them soon after he vanished with the youngsters.
Georgina Rodriguez said in an emotional post to her 24 million Instagram followers shortly after the mystery disappearance: “I want to use my reach on this great social network to make sure this reaches as many people as possible.
“These are two sisters who are being searched for in Spain and abroad. They are called Olivia and Anna and are aged six and one.
“Their mum is seeking maximum publicity for this video to try to find them as soon as possible and bring them home.
“I hope with all my heart that the girls are found safe and well and can hug their mum again soon.”
Local authorities said from the start all theories were being explored, including the possibility the girls were dead, although their loved ones said they were clinging to the hope they were still alive and a reunion with their mum could still take place.
Gimeno took the girls without consent and left Tenerife on a boat which was later found empty off Puertito de Guimar, which is on the east corner of the island just over 10 miles south of Santa Cruz.
Police had been using a boat lent to them by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography to search for clues in the spot where Gimeno’s mobile signal was last detected.
Gimeno had never accepted Beatriz’s relationship with a new Belgian partner following their split.
A spokesman for the Civil Guard said: “This afternoon the boat belonging to the Spanish Oceanographic Institute, Angeles Alabrino, which was in Tenerife combing the sea bed following the disappearance on April 27 of Tomas Gimeno with his daughters Anna and Olivia, found human remains.
“Those remains correspond with the body of a minor and were discovered in the search area that had been determined by investigators.
“The remains have been taken to the Forensic Medicine Institute in Santa Cruz where they will be analysed for the purposes of identification.”