A unidentified body has been discovered inside the wreckage of missing football star Emiliano Sala’s plane, which was discovered laying on the seabed in the English Channel.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is consulting police and the families of Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson after the body was discovered in underwater video footage of the wreckage.
The AAIB said on Monday the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely-operated vehicle which was surveying the area after the plane was located on Sunday.
Analysis of the footage by AAIB investigators confirmed the wreckage was of the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, which disappeared in poor weather near Guernsey on January 21.
“The ROV carried out a further search of the area overnight, but did not identify any additional pieces of wreckage,” the AAIB said in a statement.
“Tragically, in video footage from the ROV, one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage.”
The image shows the rear left side of the fuselage, including part of the aircraft registration, N264DB.
A recovery plan is being drawn up to retrieve the plane which is 67m below water.
Marine scientist David Mearns who found the aircraft upon leading a privately-funded search operation for it, said it was “imperative” it was raised from the seabed soon.
“There’s a much greater chance they (the Sala family) will get answers if (the plane is) recovered,” Mr Mearns.
He added their “worst fears are confirmed”, saying: “It’s going to take a long time for them to come to terms with the loss.”
The privately-funded operation on behalf of the Sala family was made possible after a campaign raised more than STG260,000 ($A470,175) to pay for it.
A decision has yet to be taken on whether to raise the wreckage to the surface.
Emiliano Sala’s father has spoken of his anguish and disbelief after the wreckage was discovered.
Speaking at his home in Argentina, Horacio Sala said he was “desperate” after a privately-funded search operation found the aircraft in waters north of Guernsey on Sunday.
“I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate,” Mr Sala told local broadcaster Cronica TV.
Two vessels, including one commissioned by the AAIB, had been taking part in a fresh search covering an area of around four square nautical miles on Sunday when the wreckage was located.
The plane had requested to descend before it lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.
An official search operation was called off on January 24 after Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker said the chances of survival following such a long period were “extremely remote”.
Two seat cushions, which are likely to have come from the plane, were found last week on the French coast.
Cardiff had signed the footballer for a club record STG15 million and he was due to start training last month.