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WORLD | 11-02-2019 15:53

Emiliano Sala died of head, torso injuries in crash, says coroner 

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue has given the cause of Sala's death as "head and trunk injuries." He was formally identified by fingerprints.

A post-mortem has concluded that Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala died from injuries to his head and torso when his plane crashed into the English Channel.

Sala, 28, died of "head and trunk injuries," an inquest in the English city of Dorset heard Monday, as a coroner hearing began to examine his death in a plane crash in the sea, three weeks to the day after the tragedy.

The single-engine aircraft was flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff where Sala was due to start a new career playing for the Welsh capital's Premier League club.

Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue has given the cause of Sala's death as "head and trunk injuries." He was formally identified by fingerprints.

The wreckage was located on the seabed. The striker's body was recovered but pilot David Ibbotson is still missing. The plane remains under the sea.

Acting senior Dorset coroner Brendan Allen said during Monday's hearing the Air Accidents Investigation Branch investigation could take up to 12 months. A pre-inquest review hearing was set for November 6.

In English law, inquests are held to examine sudden or unexplained deaths.

They set out to determine the identity of the deceased, the place and time of death as well as how the deceased came by their death, but they do not apportion blame.

'Shouldn't give up'

Senior coroner's officer Ian Parry told the hearing that the plane "was located on the seabed in international waters."

"Following a closer examination of the site a body, later identified as Mr Sala, was found and recovered. To date the pilot, Mr Ibbotson, has not been found," he said.

"Police, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the Civil Aviation Authority are continuing with their inquiries," he added.

A fundraising campaign to restart the search for Ibbotson is already more than half way to its £300,000 (US$385,000) target.

"If you've got hope then you shouldn't give up," his daughter Danielle told ITV television. "He wouldn't stop searching for me."

Rousing send off

Nantes gave a final rousing send off to Sala with a series of moving gestures in their Ligue 1 match against Nimes on Sunday.

Known as the Canaries due to their yellow kit, Nantes played in a one-off full black outfit with Sala's name on the back of each shirt.

Tickets for the game were sold at a symbolic nine euros (US$10) in memory of the player's shirt number, which they have also withdrawn.

As the Nimes players came out onto the pitch they headed to the main Nantes stand and placed flowers before a large written tribute readin 'Emi forever'.

Around 37,000 fans were on hand to see a giant portrait of Sala displayed in the centre-circle ahead of the game, and a minute's silence was observed before spilling into rousing applause.

Nantes coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who excelled when he himself was the club's striker, said he felt a special attachment to Sala, who he described as a "lovely lad."

"He has left an eternal mark on this club, on top of it all [the death] it was such a shock, him disappearing and the hope gradually dwindling," he said.

"He was a warrior on the pitch and a nice guy off it," said Nantes fan Nathalie as she laid yellow flowers at a makeshift shrine of scarves, photos and bouquets outside the stadium.

"He was a straightforward guy who displayed the kind of personal qualities we would like to see more of in football," said another fan, 21-year-old Aubin Dubuche.

Before Saturday's Premier League match between Southampton and visitors Cardiff, a minute's silence was observed.

- TIMES/AP/AFP

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