Body from wreck of Sala plane taken to Britain
Portland, Feb 7: Investigators recovered a body from the wreckage of a plane carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala in the Channel and transported it to Britain on Thursday for identification.
Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) also said that bad weather meant they were not able to recover the plane and it was therefore closing down the operation.
The light aircraft was carrying the 28-year-old footballer to his new Premier League team Cardiff City when it disappeared near the British island of Guernsey on January 21, along with 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson.
Sala’s disappearance prompted outpourings of grief across the footballing world, including at his former club Nantes in France where the plane was flying from.
After search operations were suspended, a shipwreck hunter hired by Sala’s family with funds donated by football stars such as Lionel Messi found the wreckage on Sunday.
The AAIB, who then took over the operation, revealed on Monday that an unidentified body had been found at the site.
“In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage,” the AAIB said Wednesday.
“The operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress.” But it added: “The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close”.
It said that extensive video footage captured by a remotely operated vehicle is expected to “provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation,” adding that it intends to publish an interim report on the accident later this month.
The recovered body was taken to the Isle of Portland in southern England on board the Geo Ocean III offshore supply ship and will be now be passed to the coroner in the county of Dorset for identification.