Italian authorities are investigating whether a body found in the Adriatic Sea could be related to the disappearance of a U.S. airman some 40 kilometers (30 miles) away.

Carabinieri Maj. Salvino Macli said Monday that they were in "a phase of complete hypothesis" and that it could take days to identify the body, which appeared to have been in the water for a long time. He said canals in the area where Staff Sgt. Halex Hale was last seen empty out into the Adriatic.

The 24-year-old from Middletown, Indiana, who is assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, went missing July 2 after leaving a friend's cookout off-base to walk to another friend's home. Macli said Hale left behind his cellphone, car and wallet at the cookout.