Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Search team takes Emiliano Sala plane wreckage body to mainland

The body has been taken to Portland and transferred to the Dorset coroner.

The families of Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson are waiting for a body recovered from the wreckage of their plane to be formally identified.

Investigators removed the body from the Piper Malibu N264DB  on Wednesday, and have ended their attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage because of poor weather.

The body was brought to Portland, Dorset, by the Geo Ocean III boat, and taken on a stretcher to an ambulance, before being transferred to the coroner.

The  Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the families of both men had been kept informed of progress, and identification of the body was a matter for the police and coroner for Dorset.

A statement issued by the coroner and Dorset police said the body was brought to Portland Port as it was the nearest part of the British mainland to where the plane was located.

“The coroner will investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course,” the statement said.

“While formal identification is yet to take place, the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been updated and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers, during this difficult time.”

The AAIB said it decided to attempt recovery operations after using a remotely operated vessel (ROV) to examine the accident site off the coast of Guernsey.

“In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage,” it said.

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

“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.”

The AAIB added:  “Although it was not possible to recover the aircraft, the extensive video record captured by the ROV is expected to provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation.”

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.

bpanews_8de742ac-0beb-44b4-a46a-d87c79e2917e_embedded241059179
The Geo Ocean III specialist search vessel, which has brought back the body recovered from the plane wreckage (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

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”

bpanews_8de742ac-0beb-44b4-a46a-d87c79e2917e_embedded240969790
A Cardiff City match programme paying tribute to Emiliano Sala (Mark Kerton/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 and his team located the aircraft within two hours of starting 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.

Cardiff had signed Sala, a 28-year-old Argentinian striker, for a club record £15 million.

It has emerged that Nantes has demanded payment from Cardiff for the player’s transfer.

It is understood Cardiff received a letter from Nantes on Tuesday, in which the French Ligue 1 club threatened to take legal action if the first scheduled payment of the fee is not made within 10 days.

It is believed Cardiff have been left surprised by the demand, considering the circumstances and the timing, and would rather the investigation into the tragedy is completed first.

Press Association

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph