Emiliano Sala’s family has demanded officials recover the bodies of the footballer and his pilot from the bottom of the English Channel – but the mission could be delayed by bad weather.
Rescuers revealed one body had been spotted inside as they released a haunting image of the Piper Malibu 220ft down — showing its blue and white livery and identification number.
It is not yet clear whether the body inside was that of Sala, 28, or pilot David Ibbotson, 59.
Shipwreck hunter David Mearns, who led the £300,000 GoFundMe search, said: “I’ve been in touch with Emiliano’s family and they desperately want the aircraft recovered.
“They want the wreckage brought up as quickly as possible — in fact they are demanding it. They are very keen but bad weather may delay that operation.
“The family have obtained comfort from the plane being found but it has confirmed their worst fears.’’
Speaking from Argentina, Sala’s dad Horacio said: “The hope is over. There are no more words to say. I hope both bodies are on there.
“The news has brought some relief but we still don’t know what exactly happened.”
He added: “It would be a miracle. I have to say that we have given up hope of them being found alive.”
The plane vanished on January 21 en route from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, where Sala had signed a £15million switch with the Premier League club.
An initial search failed to find the plane before Mearns spotted the wreckage from his Morven vessel.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch then sent down underwater cameras from the GEO Ocean III ship.
The organisation will now oversee the salvage operation.
A spokesman said: “Tragically in video footage, one occupant is visible amid the wreckage. “The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families and the police.”
Investigators are also checking if David, of Crowle, Lincs, had commercial flying qualifications.
It is not yet known how rescue teams will proceed with the recovery, but one
option would be to winch the plane to the surface using a recovery vessel.
In this scenario the parts would be rigged to a hoist and lifted by a crane out of the water and onto the craft.
Another method would be for divers to attach small flotation bags or “parachutes” to the wreckage before inflating them with compressed air, allowing them to float to the surface.