Body from Sala's plane sent to Britain for identification

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch, who recovered an unidentified body on Wednesday, said that it was ending the operation to bring the crashed plane to the surface due to bad weather.
Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch, who recovered an unidentified body on Wednesday, said that it was ending the operation to bring the crashed plane to the surface due to bad weather.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Investigators recovered a body from the wreckage of a plane carrying Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala in the English Channel on Wednesday.

The body was yesterday transported to Britain for identification, which will be done by the coroner in the county of Dorset. According to news website WalesOnline, there is "no definitive timescale on this".

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that it was ending the operation to bring the crashed plane to the surface due to bad weather.

The plane was flying the 28-year-old from Nantes to Cardiff when it disappeared near the Channel island of Guernsey on Jan 21, along with 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson.

Sala had signed for Cardiff just two days earlier for a club-record fee of £15 million (S$26.3 million).

His disappearance prompted outpourings of grief across the sporting world and, after local search operations were suspended, a shipwreck hunter hired by Sala's family, with funds donated by fellow footballers, found the wreckage on Sunday.

The AAIB, who then took over the operation, said on Wednesday: "In challenging conditions, the body previously seen amid the wreckage was successfully recovered.

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

"The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close."

 
 
 

It added video footage captured by a remotely operated vehicle is expected to "provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation".

The AAIB intends to publish an interim report on the accident later this month.

But, while Cardiff continue to reel from the tragedy, Nantes have consulted lawyers to explore legal options to ensure Cardiff pay the transfer fee for Sala.

The Bluebirds are understood to have received a legal letter from the French club demanding payment within 10 days of a sum believed to be about £5 million after they did not respond to an e-mail request.

That would represent the first instalment of the fee agreed between both clubs.

Cardiff's first payment was due on Jan 26 - seven days after completing the signing - and, after it had not been received last week, Nantes took action.

With the club insisting they are not ready to deal with financial matters before a body has been found and a funeral taken place, the dispute is likely to continue.

They are believed to have obtained insurance for Sala on completing his signing before confirming their liability for the transfer fee by lodging his registration with the Football Association of Wales on the day of his flight.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2019, with the headline 'Body from Sala's plane sent to Britain for identification'. Print Edition | Subscribe