A body has been recovered from the plane carrying the Argentine soccer striker Emiliano Sala, which crashed into the English Channel last month, the British authorities said late Wednesday.
The British Air Accidents Investigation Branch did not specify whether the body was that of Mr. Sala or the pilot, David Ibbotson, the only other person who was on the small plane.
“In challenging conditions, the A.A.I.B. and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage,” the investigators said in a statement. The body was being taken to the coroner of the county of Dorset, the statement said.
The recovery crews tried to retrieve the wreckage itself, but bad weather forced them to give up, according to the statement.
U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A video still, released by the British authorities, showing the wreckage of the plane that was carrying Mr. Sala and the pilot, David Ibbotson.CreditU.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Sala, 28, who had recently transferred to the English Premier League club Cardiff City from Nantes in the French league, was flying to Cardiff from Nantes on Jan. 21 when the single-engine, propeller-driven Piper Malibu vanished.
Mr. Sala had sent an audio message from the plane to a group of friends on WhatsApp, saying that he was “so afraid” and that the plane “seems like it’s falling to pieces.”
The authorities called off a search on Jan. 24. But efforts resumed after more than 371,000 euros, about $424,000, was raised from donors, including some of soccer’s most prominent players.
On Sunday, a shipwreck hunter, David Mearns, announced that his team on the ship FPV Morven had found the plane. Another ship, the Geo Ocean III, used a remotely operated vehicle to film the wreckage, and images of the registration number on the fuselage confirmed that it was the missing plane.
Mr. Sala had been one of the leading strikers in France this season. Cardiff City, which has one of the Premier League’s lowest goal totals, had signed him in an effort to improve its poor offensive production.
The Welsh team agreed to pay 15 million pounds, or more than $19 million, to acquire Mr. Sala. Nantes has demanded payment of the first installment of that transfer fee, which is to be paid over three years, the BBC reported on Wednesday.