The partial remains of a man who went missing on February 18 in the south of Argentina have found in the stomach of a school shark pulled from the sea by two fishermen and could be identified from a tattoo, investigators said.
The man has been provisionally identified as Diego Barría, a 32-year-old oil worker and lover of fishing and adventure tourism, whose death is under investigation, Daniela Millatruz, the head of the missing person's division for the city of Comodoro Rivadavia, told local media outlet ADNSUR on Tuesday.
"We asked for the collaboration of National Coast Guard with the presence of three professional divers and we are also continuing with the search on foot in the coastal area to see if the sea continues to give up any of the elements that Barría had at the time of his disappearance," explained Millatruz.
The discovery of human remains inside a 1.5 metre-long school shark, pulled from the sea some 1,500 kilometres south of the capital, shocked residents in the coastal city.
Barría was last seen on February 18 and had gone for a ride on an ATV on the beaches of Rocas Coloradas, near Comodoro Rivadavia. Around midnight, a couple of friends saw him returning in the direction of home, but he never arrived at his destination.
Forty hours later, the wrecked ATV and a helmet were found in a nearby coastal spot. Yet, even after police, firefighters and naval authorities carried out an intense search on foot, from the air and underwater in the coastal area between Puerto Visser and Rocas Coloradas, there was no trace of the missing 32-year-old.
That is, until last Sunday, when two fishermen who had caught three sharks while fishing made their horrific discovery. When they opened one of the specimens and removed its insides, they found remains of "skin, fat and human flesh," the police said in their report.
Local media outlets in Comodoro Rivadavia published excerpts from a WhatsApp audio message sent by one of the fisherman to a cousin.
"I was so unlucky that I found him inside a shark. I went fishing and I opened the shark's belly and found a forearm with a tattoo. We picked things up and went to the authorities and it was him [Barría]. He had a rose on his forearm that said 'Josefina,'" said the unnamed individual.
Although investigators have not yet ruled out any hypothesis, the strongest one suggests that the man hit a rock and was left unconscious on the coast and then the sea took the body out to sea, said the head of the regional police unit, Cristian Ansaldo.