Investigators spot body in plane wreckage DURING Emiliano Sala search.

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One of the occupants of the plane that crashed carrying the footballer Emiliano Sala has been spotted by air investigators who have been carrying out underwater searches.
The UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it was considering its next steps in consultation with the families of Sala and the pilot, David Ibbotson, and the police. In a statement, the AAIB said: “Having identified a priority search area last week, the AAIB agreed on a search strategy with Blue Water Recoveries Ltd [the private company working with the family] to maximise the chance of locating the aircraft wreckage.“The AAIB commissioned specialist vessel Geo Ocean III, and Blue Water Recoveries Ltd commissioned FPV Morven and the search area was divided between the vessels. Both vessels began their search on the morning of Sunday 3 February.“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.”Ross Taylor of A-2-Sea Solutions, which provided the FPV Morven, said the crew found the missing plane on its third line of the search area. He said: “In terms of the search, you have set lines of the seabed and they are set up at a distance depending on the resolution you want to achieve.”He compared the search process to mowing a lawn and said the wreck was found using a combination of sonar equipment, including one device towed about five metres from the seabed. He said the body was discovered using an ROV belonging to the vessel commissioned by the AAIB, Geo Ocean III. The body was picked up on the vehicle’s underwater cameras. Taylor was unable to comment on where in the plane the body was located. When asked if it was possible to recover the body without raising the wreck, Taylor said: “ROVs are sometimes able to grab on to items but whether that would happen I don’t know. Divers can also get down to that depth but it’s a much bigger operation.“In 25 metres to 30 metres of water, it would be a lot easier but in 70 metres it would be a much bigger operation.”Sala’s family are not believed to be in the Channel Islands. They are understood to want the aircraft raised to help establish exactly how it came to crash. Until the plane was discovered, they were still holding out hope that Sala could somehow have survived. David Mearns, the captain of the search boat hired by the family, confirmed he found the wreckage in the English Channel north of Guernsey using sonar equipment on Sunday morning, hours after the search began. He said the family were “desperately” hoping for the plane to be recovered, a move Mearns said was being considered by the AAIB. Sala’s father has spoken of his anguish at the discovery. “I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate,” Horacio Sala told the local broadcaster Crónica TV. Mearns, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said: “The biggest surprise to us was that most of the plane is there. We were expecting to find a debris field. It is broken but most of it is there.”He said a remote-controlled submarine deployed by the AAIB visually identified the wreckage, including the plane’s registration number.“We located the wreckage of the plane on the seabed at a depth of about 63 metres very shortly after we started searching,” Mearns said. “After that, we called in the larger vessel, the GEO Ocean III that’s the one that’s been contracted by the AAIB. They dove with their remotely operated vehicle, a submersible with cameras and lights and confirmed that it was the plane. They saw the registration number.”He added that the Geo Ocean III had been contracted for only two more days and it was unlikely to be able to recover the plane in that time. “That is probably what they are evaluating,” Mearns said. “If they can handle the conditions … then hopefully they will get some more information about how they would attempt that recovery.”