The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed one person is visible in the video footage of the wreckage of the plane that was carrying Emiliano Sala.
Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were the only people on board the plane that disappeared on its way from Nantes to Cardiff on January 21 after the 28-year-old said farewell to his former team-mates upon completing a £15m ($19.8m) transfer to Neil Warnock’s team.
The initial hunt for the aircraft was called off later that week, but it picked up again when thousands of people donated to a GoFundMe page set up to raise over €370,000 to fund an underwater search.
After seat cushions from the flight washed up on a beach in France last week, the plane was found in the English Channel on Sunday.
And the AAIB confirmed the following day that a body has been spotted in early video footage.
“Early in the search, the Morven identified an object of interest on the seabed using its side-scan sonar equipment,” a statement read. “It cleared the immediate area for the Geo Ocean III to use its underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to survey the area of the seabed in which the object was located. Based on analysis of ROV video footage, the AAIB investigators on board the vessel concluded that the object is wreckage from the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, registration N264DB.
“The ROV carried out a further search of the area overnight, but did not identify any additional pieces of wreckage.
“Tragically, in video footage from the ROV, one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage. The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police.
“The image shows the rear left side of the fuselage including part of the aircraft registration.
“We intend to publish an interim report within one month of the accident occurring.”
Tributes have been flowing in for the striker since his disappearance, with Nantes and Cardiff showing their respect during recent matches, while stars like Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero joined the calls for authorities to keep looking for his plane.