Friday, 26 April, 2019

Wreckage of plane carrying missing Emiliano Sala found

A private seabed search for Emiliano Sala's plane will start on Sunday A private seabed search for Emiliano Sala's plane will start on Sunday
Jennie Wade | 04 February, 2019, 16:58

The wreckage of a plane that was carrying Argentine soccer star Emiliano Sala has been located on the seabed of the English Channel and a body was visible inside, investigators said.

The Piper Malibu N264DB carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot Ibbotson, 59, disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

An underwater search began on Sunday and the fuselage was found on the seabed.

"Tragically, in video footage from the [underwater remotely operated vehicle] ROV, one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage".

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) moved the Geo Ocean III survey ship over the position of the wreckage to visually identify it.

Police searched for Sala and the pilot for three days, before shutting it down, with both men presumed dead. He did not specify what exactly was found, only saying that it was a "substantial amount of wreckage".

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"From a preliminary examination, we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft", the AAIB said in a statement.

Sala's father Sunday was awakened from a sound sleep to learn that the plane in which his son was killed, has been found.

A privately-funded search operation is yet to announce the exact location of the wreckage, although the floor of the western Channel is generally 200 to 400 feet deep.

The official search operation was called off on January 24 after Guernsey's harbour master, Captain David Barker, said "the chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote". The striker left Cardiff after signing his deal and returned to Nantes to collect his belongings and say goodbye to teammates and staff of the French topflight club.

The American marine scientist behind the hunt for the wreckage of Emiliano Sala's plane has promised he'll find answers, but warned that the plane has "clearly broken up".

At Cardiff's match against Bournemouth on Saturday, Sala's photograph appeared on the front cover of the matchday programme.

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