Body from wreckage of Sala’s plane arrives in Britain

A police escort drives ahead of a coroners van (grey) carrying a body from the Geo Ocean III, recovered from the wreckage of a plane carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala at Weymouth harbour, south west England on February 7, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019

Body from wreckage of Sala’s plane arrives in Britain

  • Sala’s disappearance prompted an outpouring of grief across the footballing world, including at his former club Nantes in France where the plane was flying from

PORTLAND: Investigators recovered a body underwater from the wreckage of a plane carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala in the Channel and transported it to the British mainland on Thursday for identification.
Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that bad weather meant they were unable to recover the plane and as a result it was closing down the operation.
The light aircraft was carrying the 28-year-old footballer to his new Premier League team Cardiff City when it disappeared near the British island of Guernsey on January 21, along with 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson.
Sala’s disappearance prompted an outpouring of grief across the footballing world, including at his former club Nantes in France where the plane was flying from.
After search operations were suspended, a shipwreck hunter hired by Sala’s family with funds donated by football stars such as Lionel Messi found the wreckage on Sunday.
The body was taken to Portland Harbor in southern England on board the Geo Ocean III offshore supply ship.
It was then stretchered into a silver van, with Dorset Police confirming it had “left the boat and left the port,” before being taken to a nearby mortuary for identification and a post-mortem.
“This morning... the body was brought to Portland Port, Dorset, as this is the nearest part of the British mainland to where the plane was located,” said the police statement.
“While formal identification is yet to take place, the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been updated.”
The AAIB, who took over the operation, had on Monday confirmed that an unidentified body had been found at the site.
“In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage,” the AAIB said Wednesday.
“The operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible.”
But it added: “The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close.”
It said that extensive video footage captured by a remotely operated vehicle is expected to “provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation,” adding that it intends to publish an interim report on the accident later this month.
Sala was flying to join up with Cardiff City in what was the most expensive signing in the Welsh club’s history.
Nantes have consulted lawyers to explore legal options to ensure Cardiff pay the transfer fee for Sala, a source close to the French club revealed on Wednesday.
According to the source, the first instalment of the 17-million-euro ($19.3 million) deal for the Argentine striker has yet to be paid, despite the transfer being finalized before the accident.
According to BBC Wales, Nantes have given Cardiff a 10-day ultimatum over the first payment of between five and six million euros.
A source at Cardiff told British media that the Welsh club will honor the contract but only once they have clarified “all the facts.” Cardiff are said to be “surprised” with the timing of the demand so soon after the tragedy.
The plane, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, vanished from radar around 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Guernsey, with pilot Ibbotson the only other person aboard.
After the official rescue team gave up their search, saying there was little chance of finding anyone alive, Sala’s family raised more than 370,000 euros ($422,000) in an online campaign to pay for a private hunt.
“Had that not happened, I don’t think anybody would have searched for the plane,” shipwreck hunter David Mearns, whose private company found the plane, told AFP.
The discovery of two seat cushions on the French coast last week revealed that the plane had broken apart, Mearns added.
Earlier this week the footballer’s father, Horacio Sala, acknowledged that there was no prospect of finding his son alive.
“There’s no longer any hope,” he told Fox Sports.
“We hope the two bodies are inside (the plane). It’s over, the only thing I hope now is that they find them.”


Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

Updated 23 August 2019

Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

  • Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds demonstrated against Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy
  • Posters appeared overnight in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan

SRINAGAR, India: Security forces used tear gas against stone-throwing local residents in Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar on Friday, after a third straight week of protests in the restive Soura district despite the imposition of tight restrictions.
Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds of locals staged a protest march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5.
Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India’s decision.
This was the first such call by separatists seeking Kashmir’s secession from India. India’s move was accompanied by travel and communication restrictions in Kashmir that are still largely in place, although some landlines were restored last week.
The UNMOGIP was set up in 1949 after the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, a Himalayan region both countries claim in full but rule in part. The group monitors cease-fire violations along the border between the countries.
In a narrow lane of Soura, blocked like many others with rocks and sheets of metal, residents hurled stones at the paramilitary police to stop them moving into an area around the local mosque, Jinab Sahib, which had earlier been packed for Friday prayers.
The police responded with several rounds of tear gas and chili grenades but were beaten back by dozens of stone-pelting men. Some men suffered pellet injuries.
The locals said the security forces had been repeatedly trying to move into Soura, often using tear gas and pellets.
“We are neither safe at home, nor outside,” said Rouf, who declined to give his full name. He had rubbed salt into his face to counteract the effects of tear gas.
The afternoon had begun peacefully, with men and women streaming into Jinab Sahib for afternoon prayers. A cleric then raised a call for “Azadi” – Urdu for freedom – several times, and declared Kashmir’s allegiance to neighboring Pakistan.
“Long live Pakistan,” the cleric said, as worshippers roared back in approval.
US President Donald Trump plans to discuss Kashmir when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in France this weekend, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.
Trump, who has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, will press Modi on how he plans to calm regional tensions after the withdrawal of Kashmir’s autonomy, and stress the need for dialogue, the official said.
Some Indian media reports on Friday said “terrorists” were trying to enter India from Afghanistan, citing unnamed government officials.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan responded on Twitter on Friday that such claims were being made to “divert attention” away from what he called human rights violations in Kashmir.
“The Indian leadership will in all probability attempt a false flag operation to divert attention,” Khan said.
Khan’s comments came a day after United Nations experts called on the Indian government to “end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests” in Kashmir, saying it would increase regional tensions.
“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense,” they said in a statement.
At least 152 people have been hurt by teargas and pellets since security forces launched their crackdown, data from the Himalayan region’s two main hospitals shows.
Large swathes of Srinagar remain deserted with shops shut except for some provision stores with shutters half-down. Police vans patrolled some areas announcing a curfew and asking people to stay indoors.
On the Dal Lake, long rows of houseboats, normally packed with tourists at this time of year, floated closed and empty, as police patrolled its mirror-calm waters in boats.