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Body recovered on plane carrying Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson arrives in Dorset

A stretcher carrying a body is removed from the Geo Ocean III specialist search vessel docked in Portland, Dorset. Credit: PA

The families of Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson are waiting for a body recovered from the wreckage of their plane to be formally identified.

Investigators removed the body from the Piper Malibu N264DB on Wednesday, and have ended their attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage because of poor weather.

The body was brought to Portland, Dorset, by the Geo Ocean III boat, and taken on a stretcher to an ambulance, before being transferred to the coroner.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the families of both men had been kept informed of progress, and identification of the body was a matter for the police and coroner.

The plane carrying Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson crashed in January. Credit: PA

A statement issued by the coroner and Dorset police said the body was brought to Portland Port as it was the nearest part of the British mainland to where the plane was located.

"The coroner will investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course," the statement said.

"While formal identification is yet to take place, the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been updated and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers, during this difficult time."

Remotely operated Vehicles (ROVs) were used in "challenging conditions" to pull the body out of the water "in as dignified a way as possible" the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on Wednesday night.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as poor weather conditions stopped efforts to recover it.

Private Ambulance leaves with a body from the Geo Ocean III specialist search vessel docked in Portland, Dorset. Credit: PA

In a statement, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said: "Following extensive visual examination of the accident site using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), it was decided to attempt recovery operations.

"In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage.

"The operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress.

"Unfortunately, attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful before poor weather conditions forced us to return the ROV to the ship.

"The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close.

"Although it was not possible to recover the aircraft, the extensive video record captured by the ROV is expected to provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation.

"We expect our next update to be an interim report, which we intend to publish within one month of the accident occurring."

The wreckage of the plane at the bottom of the English Channel. Credit: AAIB

The Piper Malibu N264DB carrying 28-year-old Sala and 59-year-old Mr Ibbotson disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

The plane had requested to descend before losing contact with Jersey air traffic control.

An official search operation was called off on January 24.

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker said the chances of survival after such a long period were "extremely remote".

The remains of the aircraft were tracked down by a team co-ordinated by ocean scientist David Mearns, who has located some of the most elusive wrecks in the world.

Mr Mearns - known as the "Shipwreck Hunter" - and his team located the aircraft within two hours of commencing their search.

The AAIB said it expected to publish an interim report within the month.

Cardiff had signed the Argentinian striker for a club record £15 million and he was due to start training last month.