A body recovered from plane wreckage in the English Channel has been identified as footballer Emiliano Sala.
The news brings to an end a devastating two and a half weeks since the plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared while traveling from Nantes in France to Cardiff in Wales.
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The Argentine was set to debut as Premier League club Cardiff’s record signing after moving for around $A27 million.
They were the only two people onboard the small aircraft that disappeared from radar over the English Channel last month.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) says the body was recovered in “challenging conditions” with the “operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress.”
Investigators have not been able to recover the aircraft which was flying from Nantes to Cardiff after Sala transferred from the French city’s team to the Welsh capital’s Premier League club.
However, the AAIB says that video from a remote underwater vehicle “is expected to provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation.”
The plane vanished from radar around 20 kilometres north of Guernsey.
“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.
“We expect our next update to be an interim report, which we intend to publish within one month of the accident occurring.”
Sala had been travelling to Cardiff after saying goodbye to his former team-mates at Nantes, having sealed a transfer to the Premier League in a club-record deal for the Bluebirds.
Nantes have reportedly demanded the first installment of the transfer fee -believed to be worth more than $A9m – with Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman insisting they would send the payment “when we think it’s the right time to do it”.
“We must show respect to the family. There is a process for recovering the plane.”