Argentinian football player Emiliano Sala was exposed to a high level of carbon monoxide before the accident which claimed his life earlier this year, according to a report issued Wednesday.
A report by the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) suggested that Sala’s blood contained 58% carbon monoxide (CO).
“CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced from the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials,” the report explained, adding that combining it with hemoglobin in the blood cuts the flow of needed oxygen to the body.
“In this type of aircraft, the cockpit is not separated from the cabin and it is considered likely that the pilot would also have been affected to some extent by exposure to CO,” the report said, referring to the pilot David Ibbotson, whose body has yet to be found.
Carbon monoxide intoxication “can reduce or inhibit a pilot’s ability to fly an aircraft,” it noted.
The report made no conclusions on the nature of Sala or Ibbotson’s death, either inside the aircraft due to poisoning, or due to the crash itself.
Speaking after the release of the report, Sala’s family stressed their increased suspicions about the incident.
“The family and the public need to know how the carbon monoxide was able to enter the cabin. Future air safety rests on knowing as much as possible on this issue,” said lawyers for the family.
On Jan. 21, Sala was on his way to join his new club Cardiff City when the plane carrying him from Nantes vanished from radar near the Channel Islands.
The wreckage of the plane carrying Sala was found by a private search boat on Feb. 3, and his body was later recovered.
*Writing by Sena Guler