POLICE in Dorset have launched an investigation after photographs of tragic footballer Emiliano Sala's body in a Bournemouth morgue were posted online, it has been reported.

The images purport to show the Argentinian striker's remains at the Holly Tree Lodge mortuary in Boscombe. Mr Sala died in a plane crash earlier this year.

A spokesperson from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council today told the Echo: "We are revolted by this heartless act and cannot understand why anyone would do such a vile and hurtful thing. 

"We are of course supporting Dorset Police in their investigation in any way that we can, and will continue to provide any assistance required. 

"As the police investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

A detective told the Sunday Mirror: "We're disgusted somebody did this.

"It is a very difficult time for Mr Sala's family and they should not have to endure additional pain this shameful act will undoubtedly cause."

It is believed the images were first published on social media several weeks ago.

The 28-year-old footballer, who had just signed for Cardiff City, disappeared with the pilot of the Piper Malibu private plane after it crashed in the waters north of Guernsey on January 21.

Mr Sala's body was recovered on February 6 but David Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been located.

The footballer's father, Horacio Sala, 58, died at his home in Progreso in Argentina's Santa Fe province on Friday, local media reported.

Police are probing the possibility that the photographs were taken by someone who broke into the mortuary.

A spokesperson reportedly said: "We are aware that a picture reported to be of Mr Sala’s body has been shared on social media channels and are disgusted somebody did this.

“We are investigating this incident and working with a number of agencies to establish how the picture was taken and who is responsible.”

An inquest into Mr Sala's death was opened and adjourned at Bournemouth town hall in February.

Acting senior coroner for Dorset, Brendan Allen, was told that Mr Sala was travelling from Nantes in France, where he had previously played and lived.

He was the only passenger on board the plane, which was found nearly two weeks after its disappearance in international waters.

The inquest took place in Bournemouth because Mr Sala's body was brought to Portland in Dorset, the nearest part of the British mainland to where the plane was located.

Reporters from nine different media organisations attended the coroner's court in Bournemouth to hear brief details about Mr Sala's death.

Senior coroner's officer Ian Parry said Mr Sala was confirmed dead at the Port of Portland on February 7.

He said investigations are being carried out by the Civil Aviation Authority, the Air Accident Investigation Branch and police.

Mr Sala was formally identified by finger print evidence.

A post mortem examination was carried out in Bournemouth by Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Basil Purdue.

Mr Allen said investigators have indicated that inquiries could take a year.

He adjourned the inquest for a pre-inquest review, to be held in November.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.