The body of six-year-old Gabriella Marcano was found entangled between the roots of mangrove growing on the banks of Lanse Mitan River in Moruga, yesterday.
Her body was discovered at around 1.30 p.m. by villagers who volunteered to go in search of the child.
The river is located a short distance from the beach at Grand Chemin, Moruga, where Gabriella was last seen alive on Sunday afternoon.
In a telephone interview yesterday afternoon, the child's father, Shawn Matthews, said:
"I am standing right now looking at my child's body. I can't believe this. I am very disappointed with the Coast Guard. We were begging them to go up the river to look for my daughter, but they didn't go.
"The fishermen from here volunteered to go and look for her and they found her up the river."
Matthews, father of five, said he refused to leave the beach until his daughter was found.
"I didn't leave here. My wife is not in a good state of mind, I didn't want to bring her.
"I want to say that I didn't leave my daughter bathing on the beach. I was with her the entire time. But I don't know what happened and she just disappeared," he said.
T&T Coast Guard public relations officer Lt Kirk Jean-Baptiste said Gabriella's body was snagged in the mangrove.
He said a team of Coast Guard officers, villagers and fishermen recovered the body.
Coast Guard divers began searching Grand Chemin beach the morning after Gabriella vanished.
The search continued all day on Monday, but she was not found.
Gabriella, a first year pupil of Anstey Memorial Girls' Primary School, went to the beach with her parents and siblings.
The family lives at Lady Bird Crescent, Pleasantville.
"Her younger brother and sister are asking me if Gabby is dead. I can't answer them.
"They get so used to her being around. I don't know how they will cope with this," Matthews said.
Matthews described his daughter as playful, intelligent and loving.
"I can't bear to see my child's face like this. The body is decomposing and it looks as though fishes were already feeding on her," he said.
An autopsy will be performed this morning.
Corporal Ramlogan is investigating.