A body has been recovered from amidst the wreckage of the plane which crashed with footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board, The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.
The mission to recover the body, which has not yet been identified, began on Tuesday evening, more than two weeks after they crashed into the English Channel.
However, due to poor weather conditions the wreckage of the plane has not been recovered and the operation has been brought to a close.
In a statement, the 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.”
The plane was carrying Cardiff City’s new striker Sala, 28, and Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, to Cardiff on 21 January after the footballer returned to FC Nantes to say goodbye to his former teammates.
The plane went missing on January 21 and, after a four-day search of the English Channel resulted in nothing being found, a privately funded search started on Sunday.
The aircraft was found within a matter of hours on the seabed north of Guernsey 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”, said the discovery had been so quick because the team had been looking for a static object rather than in a dynamic environment searching for survivors.
“No-one should walk away with the impression that the Coastguard and also the Channel Islands air search did anything other than a professional job,” he said.
Due to poor weather conditions the ROV being used to recover the wreckage was forced to return to the ship.
The AAIB added in their statement: “The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close. The body is currently being taken to Portland to be passed into the care of the Dorset Coroner.
“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.”