Body found in wreckage of plane carrying football player Sala

Football player Sala and pilot Ibbotson were on board when the plane disappeared from the radar on January 21.

    Investigators say they can see a body in the plane wreck, found under the sea after a two-week search [AAIB/AP]
    Investigators say they can see a body in the plane wreck, found under the sea after a two-week search [AAIB/AP]

    British air accident investigators on Monday said one body can be seen in the sea among the wreckage of a plane that went missing carrying football player Emiliano Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson.

    "One occupant is visible amidst the wreckage," said the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in video footage from a remotely operated underwater vehicle. Investigators are "now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police."

    The discovery comes one day after the sighting of the small plane two weeks after it disappeared from the radar over the English Channel.

    The wreckage was found near the Channel Island Guernsey by a private rescue operation hired by Sala's family. 

    The family raised $340,000 in private donations to continue the search after the official operation had been called off.  

    The details of the location were sent to the AAIB, who will now officially identify the plane and try to recover the wreckage.

    An AAIB ship will remain at the location and will launch a small submarine to confirm the location visually then work to recover the wreckage will start.

    Before sighting the body, David Mearns, who ran the private operation, said on Twitter the families of Sala and Ibbotson, were notified of the discovery of the wreckage.

    The plane disappeared on January 21, when the 28-year-old striker from Argentina, who recently signed for the English Premier League club, was flying from the French city of Nantes, where he used to play.

    Sala had just signed with Cardiff City for a club record fee of about 17 million euros ($19m) after scoring 12 goals while playing for the French club.

    He was on his way to join his new Premier League team when the plane when down. 

    Argentine newspaper Clarin published a message that Sala sent before his plane vanished saying he was "getting scared".

    Rescue aircraft and boats searched more than 4,400 square kilometres of the ocean for the single-engine Piper Malibu but had failed to find any trace of it.

    Last weekend, Cardiff commemorated Sala during their match in the Premier League. FC Nantes held a  similar ceremony last week during their match in the French League.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies