Air accident investigators have confirmed that there is one body present in the wreckage of the light aircraft which crashed over the English Channel while flying Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala from Nantes in France to Cardiff in the UK.
However, there is no confirmation yet as to whether the body is that of Argentinian Sala or the pilot of the plane, David Ibottson, according to the Daily Mail. It is also possible that both bodies are present, but only one is visible at the moment.
Bad weather in the English channel means that efforts to salvage the wreckage had to be abandoned for today and may not be able to resume for several days.
“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,” a spokesperson for the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said today.
They have released an image which shows the rear left side of the fuselage of the Piper Malibu light aircraft, including part of the aircraft registration, N264DB.
Speaking to the press in his native Argentina, Emiliano Sala’s father Horacio was devastated by the news. “I cannot believe it…. this is a dream… a bad dream… I’m desperate,” he said.
Coastguards on the British Channel Island of Guernsey abandoned the search for Sala’s plane last week after ruling that the chances of finding any survivors was minimal given the cold temperatures and inclement weather in the area where the plane went down.
Sala’s family was unhappy with this decision and after crowdfunding, they launched a private search for the plane led by renowned shipwreck hunter David Mearns. A sea search vessel used by Mearn’s, the FPV Morven, found the wreckage on the seabed on Sunday morning using its sonar.
Speaking to the British press, Mearns commented that “we were expecting to find a debris field, it is broken, but most of it is there.” When asked about whether the bodies of Sala and Ibottson might be on board, he said, “That’s a possibility, and they will be planning for that as well so there’s a number of things the AAIB have to consider but their main role obviously is to conduct their investigation of what caused this crash.”
Now an AAIB remote submarine has confirmed that at least one of the bodies is indeed there; news which will be devastating for the families of the victims but will at least give them some sort of closure.