Efforts to recover the body seen in the wreckage of a plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala have begun, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has said.
The light aircraft was discovered on Sunday on the seafloor of the English Channel off the coast of Alderney, nearly two weeks after it disappeared.
A spokesperson for the AAIB said recovery would be “slow” as the team will use a remotely operated vehicle.
Strong currents and passing vessels will make conditions tougher to recover the plane, which is about 67 metres deep.
“We are attempting to recover the body. If we are successful, we will consider the feasibility of recovering the aircraft wreckage,” the spokesperson said.
“Strong tidal conditions mean we can only use the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for limited periods each day and this will mean that progress is slow. Regardless of the results, we will not be making a further statement until the families have been informed.”
On Monday, marine scientist David Mearns, who co-ordinated the discovery of the plane, said it was “imperative” the aircraft was lifted to provide answers to the victims’ families.
He added: “The AAIB should be able to rule things out or rule things in, that’s the normal investigative process for any crash, so I think it’s imperative that the plane is recovered, and now even more so now we know someone is down there.”
The plane vanished from radar on January 21 as it carried a newly-signed Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, to Cardiff from Nantes in western France.
Footage from the remotely operated vehicle on Monday showed a body in the submerged wreck of the Piper Malibu N264DB, which was confirmed as the missing plane.
Captain David Barker, Guernsey’s harbour master, said the chances of survival after such a long period were “extremely remote”.
Mearns, who has spearheaded around 20 historic wreck discoveries including one of Britain’s most famous battleships, the HMS Hood, offered his services to the Sala family for free and has been in constant contact with them.
A crowdfunding campaign raised the funds needed for a boat equipped with the necessary sonar technology.