Investigators spot body in wreckage of plane carrying missing soccer player

Air-accident investigators say they have spotted a body inside the wreckage of a missing plane carrying Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala and his pilot.

Striker who played for Nantes was preparing to start new career in English Premier League

A tribute to missing soccer player Emiliano Sala stands outside a stadium in Nantes, France, last Wednesday. 'One occupant is visible' in the wreckage of a sunken plane that had been carrying Sala, British investigators said Monday. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

Air-accident investigators say they have spotted a body inside the wreckage of a plane that went missing two weeks ago and was carrying Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala and his pilot.

Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson were aboard the small aircraft that disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Jan. 21 as it flew from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff, Wales.

Sala, a striker who played for Nantes in the French top flight, was preparing to start a new career in the English Premier League at Cardiff.

Wreckage from the plane was located Sunday after Sala's family raised funds for a private search by American-born shipwreck-hunting specialist David Mearns that was conducted in conjunction with British air accident investigators.

An underwater remotely operated vehicle surveyed the seabed and confirmed an object was the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, with the registration N264DB visible in a picture of the fuselage released Monday.

"One occupant is visible amidst the wreckage," the Air Accident Investigation Branch said in a statement on Monday. "The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police."

Investigators say they plan to release an interim report into the accident later this month.