Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Body found in wreckage of footballer Emiliano Sala's plane, say investigators

One occupant is 'visible amidst the wreckage,' says Air Accidents Investigation Branch

A team carrying out a search for the plane of missing Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala have found a body among the wreckage on Monday, investigators said.

The missing plane carrying Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson was found Sunday on the seabed near Guernsey, a spokesman for Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

The 28-year-old forward had been en route from Nantes in western France to make his debut for Welsh team Cardiff City when the plane is believed to have crashed into the sea on January 21.

"Based on analysis of ROV [underwater remotely operated vehicle] video footage, the AAIB investigators on board the vessel concluded that the object is wreckage from the missing Piper Malibu aircraft," Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said in a statement.

"Tragically, in video footage from the ROV, one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage. The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police."

The AAIB was assisted in locating the aircraft by the Geo Ocean III ship and a ship led by marine expert and shipwreck hunter David Mearns, the FPV Morven.

The Geo Ocean III will remain at the site overnight.

Mr Mearns, who was co-ordinating a privately funded search for the aircraft, wrote on Twitter that "the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by police".

The AAIB said it had now concluded it was the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, issuing an underwater image of the crashed plane with part of its registration number - N264DB - clearly visible.

"The image shows the rear left side of the fuselage including part of the aircraft registration," the AAIB said. "We intend to publish an interim report within one month of the accident occurring."

Cardiff City supporters paid tribute to Emiliano Sala on Saturday in emotional scenes before the Welsh club won their Premier League clash with Bournemouth.

Updated: February 4, 2019 04:35 PM

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