Body recovered from Emiliano Sala plane wreckage

A body seen in the wreckage of the plane carrying footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson has been "successfully recovered", investigators said.

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) were used in "challenging conditions" to pull the body out of the water "in as dignified a way as possible" the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on Wednesday night.

The body is being taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination, the AAIB added.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as poor weather conditions stopped efforts to recover it.

Flowers and scarves placed outside Cardiff City Stadium in tribute to Emiliano Sala (M
Flowers and scarves placed outside Cardiff City Stadium in tribute to Emiliano Sala (Mark Kerton/PA Wire)

An AAIB spokesman said: "Unfortunately, attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful before poor weather conditions forced us to return the ROV to the ship.

"The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close.

"In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage.

"The operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress."

The remains of the plane were discovered on Sunday evening. It had disappeared on January 21 as it travelled from Nantes in France to Cardiff.

The AAIB said previously that the work of the ROVs has been hampered by the difficult tidal conditions around the Channel Islands.

The plane had requested to descend before it lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

An official search operation was called off on January 24 after Guernsey's harbour master David Barker said the chances of survival following such a long period were "extremely remote".

David Mearns said the  Coastguard and the Channel Islands air search had done a professional job (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
David Mearns said the Coastguard and the Channel Islands air search had done a professional job (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

The remains of the aircraft were tracked down by a team co-ordinated by ocean scientist David Mearns, who has located some of the most elusive wrecks in the world.

Mr Mearns – known as the "Shipwreck Hunter" – and his team located the aircraft within two hours of commencing their search.

He told the Press Association the discovery had been so quick because the team had been looking for a static object rather than in a dynamic environment searching for survivors.

"No-one should walk away with the impression that the Coastguard and also the Channel Islands air search did anything other than a professional job," he said.

The AAIB said it expected to publish an interim report within the month.

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Emiliano Sala
A picture shows flowers put in front of the entrance of the training center La Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre on January 25, 2019, four days after the plane of Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala vanished during a flight from Nantes, (AFP Photo/LOIC VENANCE)
File photo dated 26/01/19 of a tribute to Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala shown on the big screen during the FA Cup fourth round match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Wreckage from the plane which disappeared with Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board has been found in the English Channel, search director David Mearns said.
A picture of Emiliano Sala is shown on the big screen in tribute to the missing footballer at Cardiff City Stadium during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock during a minutes silence in memory of Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff City players during a minutes silence for Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff City's Callum Paterson warms up ahead of the match whilst wearing a Emiliano Sala t-shirt during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
A view of the match day programme with an image of Emiliano Sala on the cover in remembrance during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff City fans wear dafodiles to honour missing footballer Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Fans look on at the flowers and scarves placed outside Cardiff City Stadium in tribute to Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Fans looking on at the flowers and scarves placed outside Cardiff City Stadium in tribute to Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
A view of half and half scarves placed outside Cardiff City Stadium in tribute to Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
A view of a hat with written messages in tribute to Emiliano Sala during the Premier League match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Watford and Tottenham Hotspur players during a minute's silence paying tribute to Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson before the Premier League match at Wembley Stadium, London.
Cardiff City fans in the stands with a banner reading 'Emiliano Forever in our hearts' during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.
Cardiff City fans in the stands with a flag reading 'Emiliano Sala Forever a Bluebird' during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.
General view of the matchday programme which includes missing footballer Emiliano Sala in the Cardiff City squad alongside a yellow daffodil before the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London.
Emiliano Sala's sister Romina (left) and mother Mercedes (centre) listen to Blue Water Recoveries director David Mearns talk about plans to find and recover the plane carrying the missing footballer and pilot David Ibbotson which disappeared over the English Channel, during a press conference at Guernsey airport.
Middlesbrough fans show their support for missing footballer Emiliano Sala during the FA Cup fourth round match at Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough.
FC Nantes football club supporters place flowers and a club scarf in the main square of the city of Nantes, France, on 25 January 2019. Four days after the disappearance of the plane of the former Argentinian forward of the Football Club of Nantes (FC Nantes) Emiliano Sala, the emotion of the supporters of the club and the Nantes did not fall. (Photo by Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)
People Of Nantes Continue To Pay Tribute To Emiliano Sala in Nantes, France, on 25 January 2019. Four days after the disappearance of the plane of the former Argentinian forward of the Football Club of Nantes (FC Nantes) Emiliano Sala, the emotion of the supporters of the club and the Nantes did not fall. (Photo by Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)
The body is being taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination.
The St John Marine Ambulance, Flying Christine III, shrouded in fog as it is moored in Guernsey harbour. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
A view of the FPV Morven survey vessel moored in Guernsey Harbour which was used to discover the wreckage of the plane that was carrying footballer Emiliano Sala. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
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