The Neptuno. | Eugenio Castillo Pert


The navy ship Neptuno based in Cartagena was due to arrive in Majorca at around ten o'clock on Saturday night to undertake the task of recovering the body of pilot Antonio Alfaro and the fire-fighting plane he had been flying.

The navy's Rafael Martí says that the Neptuno has the capability to lift both the plane and the body from the 62 metres depth. Divers will make an initial assessment. The body of Antonio Alfaro will be removed first.

Colonel Manuel Aroca, chief of the air force's rescue centre, said earlier on Saturday that it is too early to draw any conclusions as to what happened to the plane or about the time taken to locate it: almost three days had passed before a navy minesweeper picked up the plane on its sonar equipment.

One theory is that the plane suffered a mechanical failure and that Antonio Alfaro had flown out to sea in order to land the plane. But in the process, something happened to make the plane crash and then sink.