Body recovered after plane crash is that of Cardiff City player Emiliano Sala, police say

Flowers lay in front of the entrance of the training center La Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, France on Jan. 25, 2019, four days after the plane of Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala vanished during a flight from Nantes, western France, to Cardiff in Copyright Loic Venance
By Phil Helsel with NBC News World News
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Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and the pilot were the only two on board the plane that went missing over the English Channel on Jan. 21.


A body recovered from the wreckage of a plane that went missing over the English Channel last month is that of Cardiff City soccer player Emiliano Sala, Dorset police said.

Sala, a striker from Argentina, was on board the Piper Malibu aircraft that went missing on Jan. 21, and earlier Thursday authorities reported that human remains were recovered, but at that time the remains were unidentified.

Dorset police said Thursday that the body "has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala."

The pilot, David Ibbotson, was also on board the Piper Malibu, which is a small single-engine plane. They were the only two people on board the plane, authorities have said.

Air accident investigators said Monday that divers found the wreckage of the plane and that one body was spotted inside.

The plane was traveling from Nantes, France, to Cardiff in the U.K. when the aircraft lost contact with air traffic control, Dorset police said.

Police said the families of Sala and Ibbotson "have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time."

F.C. Nantes sold Sala to Cardiff City in Wales, and Sala was in transit to his new club when the plane went down.

Cardiff City F.C. in a statement shared the report from Dorset police about the identification of the remains, and said "We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts."

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch said in a statement Thursday that efforts to recover the aircraft were unsuccessful due to poor weather conditions, and that "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 agency said that "extensive video" recorded by a remotely operated vehicle is expected to be useful in its safety investigation.

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