David Mearns, the director of Bluewater Recoveries and the man who was at the head of the renewed efforts to locate the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson , says the families of both the player and the pilot know they are dead.
Mearns led the operation to find the aircraft, which disappeared off the radar near the Channel Islands on its voyage from Nantes, after a crowdfunding page raised well over the target to restart the search after initial investigations by authorities had been called off.
The plane was found just hours after the search had recommenced, with video footage revealing one body on board the wreckage .
With authorities having stated last week that chances of survival for either of the individuals were 'extremely remote', Mearns has now confirmed the priority is trying to recover the bodies.
“What these families know at the moment is that both [Sala and Ibbotson] are dead and what they want is to recover their bodies,” Mearns said in an interview with Clarin .
“The most important thing is the bodies. Recovering the bodies is the most important thing for both families. The plane is a different matter, that's related only to determining the cause of the accident.”
Means stated that he was no longer involved in the operation, with British authorities having taken over following the discovery of the wreckage , but did offer some insight into how the bodies would be recovered.
“I'm not involved anymore. Once we found it, everything was in the hands of the Air Accidents Investigations Branch. They will investigate what caused the crash,” he said.
“What I know is that they only have one body, that's everything I know. They [AAIB] tried to recover the body during the night and I know they had some trouble.
“If they are doing it now, they're doing it with a robotic vehicle, operated remotely by a pilot and connected to the ship with a cable. It has cameras and microphones and has robotic arms.
“The issue is where the body is; that is to say if it is free or if it's stuck in the seats. They can recover the body in different ways: they could possibly use a hook or a rope. You could also potentially use a basket.
“There are many ways of doing it. As far as I know, there are no divers.
“The family will be very grateful for their efforts. Now, we're praying for them to succeed.”