A body has been recovered from the wreckage of the plane which crashed with Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has said.
The Piper Malibu aircraft was found on the seabed of the English Channel on Sunday morning but strong tidal conditions hampered the operation to remove the body.
In a statement, the AAIB said: “Following extensive visual examination of the accident site using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), it was decided to attempt recovery operations.
“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.
“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.
Tributes were paid to Sala before Cardiff kicked off against Bournemouth last weekend, and goalscorer Bobby Reid celebrated his opener by holding up a shirt with a picture of Sala on it
“The body is currently being taken to Portland to be passed into the care of the Dorset Coroner.
“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.”
The aircraft disappeared on January 21 when flying Sala from Nantes to Cardiff, just days after he had completed a club-record transfer to the Premier League side.