Body recovered from wreckage of Emiliano Sala plane crash

Accident investigators say attempts to recover aircraft have been unsuccessful

The wreckage of the aircraft carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala on the seabed near Guernsey. Photograph: AAIB/ via Reuters

A body has been recovered from the wreckage of the plane which crashed with footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

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. 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.”

Requested to descend

The remains of the plane were discovered on Sunday evening. It had disappeared on January 21st as it travelled from Nantes in France to Cardiff. The plane had requested to descend before it lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

Cardiff had signed the footballer for a club record €17.1 million and he was due to start training last month.

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

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 said 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. –PA