Emiliano Sala's plane found, body visible in wreckage on English Channel seafloor

/ CBS/AP

A photo provided by the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch on Feb. 4, 2019 shows the wreckage of a small aircraft on the floor of the English Channel, identified as the plane which disappeared two weeks earlier carrying professional soccer player Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson UK AAIB

London — One body is visible in the seabed wreckage of a plane that went missing carrying Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala and his pilot two weeks ago, air accident investigators said Monday. Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were on board the small aircraft that dropped off 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 Premier League at Cardiff. A chilling audio message surfaced in the days after his plane vanished, in which Sala tries to sound calm but tells friends from aboard the doomed aircraft that he is "so scared" as it appears to be "falling apart."

Wreckage from the plane was located on 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.

Nimes Olympique v FC Nantes - Ligue 1
Emiliano Sala of Nantes during the Ligue 1 match between Nimes and Nantes at Stade des Costieres, in a Jan. 16, 2019 file photo taken in Nimes, France. Getty

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. "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 this month.

First published on February 4, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

emiliano-salas-plane-aaib.jpg Nimes Olympique v FC Nantes - Ligue 1

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