Footballer Emiliano Sala "probably exposed to carbon monoxide" before his plane crash

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The FC Nantes striker and his driver crashed on 21 January while on their way to Cardiff, where he had just been transferred.

The World with AFP Posted today at 17h03, updated at 17h10

Time to Reading 1 min.

Supporters pay tribute to Emiliano Sala on February 10, 2019 in Nantes.
Supporters pay tribute to Emiliano Sala on February 10, 2019 in Nantes. LOÏC VENANCE / AFP

Would the death of footballer Emiliano Sala be due to carbon monoxide poisoning? The Argentine striker and his pilot, both dead in January in the crash of their plane, were exposed to "Potentially fatal" of this gas, announced Wednesday, August 14 British investigators.

"Toxicological tests revealed that the passenger had a high saturation level of COHb (product combining carbon monoxide and hemoglobin)"said the British Air Accident Investigation Branch (or AAIB) in a special bulletin. According to tests, it had a saturation level of 58% COHb, gold "A level of COHb of 50% or more in an otherwise healthy individual is generally considered potentially fatal", says the AAIB, which adds that he is "Likely that the pilot (have been) also exposed to carbon monoxide.

Read also After the disappearance of Emiliano Sala, the slow reconstruction of FC Nantes

Poor sealing or leaks

Sala and his driver, David Ibbotson, crashed on 21 January as the FC Nantes striker rejoined the Cardiff club, where he had just been transferred. The body of the 28-year-old footballer was found in the body of the aircraft, more than two weeks after the accident, 67 meters deep. The pilot's body was not found.

According to the AAIB, carbon monoxide poisoning poses a particular risk to the type of aircraft in which the two men traveled. "Piston-engine airplanes produce high concentrations of carbon monoxide that are transported out of the aircraft by the exhaust system", said the investigators. "Improper cabin sealing or leaks in exhaust gas heating and ventilation systems can allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabin" and in the cockpit.

Exposure to gas can damage the brain and the nervous system. Unconsciousness and heart attacks are possible with COHb levels above 50%. "It is clear from the symptoms that exposure to (carbon monoxide) may reduce or inhibit a pilot's ability to fly an airplane based on the level of exposure ", says the AAIB.

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