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Body found in plane wreckage identified as Emiliano Sala

By Darryl Coote
Body found in plane wreckage identified as Emiliano Sala
The body recovered from the wreckage of a plane at the bottom of the English Channel Wednesday was identified as Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala. Photo courtesy Cardiff City FC

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The body recovered from the wreckage of a plane at the bottom of the English Channel has been identified as star Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala, Police said Thursday.

The U.S.-registered Piper Malibu aircraft was traveling from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, Wales, when it lost contact with air traffic control and crashed into the English Channel Jan. 21.

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David Ibbotson, 59, was also aboard the plane.

"The body brought to Portland Port ... has been formally identified by HM Coroner of Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala," Dorset Police said in a statement. "The families of Mr. Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially trained family liaison officer."

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The body was recovered late Wednesday by the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch in "as dignified a way as possible," it said.

The wreckage was first discovered Sunday morning by a privately funded search operation led by scientist David Mearns after British authorities had called off its mission as "chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote," Guernsey police harbor master Capt. David Barker said in a statement.

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Video of a body present in the wreckage, now confirmed to be that of Sala, was captured.

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The 28-year-old Argentine soccer star was en route to Cardiff where he had recently signed a $19.3-million contract to play for Cardiff City FC.

"We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts," the team said on its website.

He had yet to play for the club.

The circumstances of his death will continue to be investigated, Dorset police said.

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