Emiliano Sala latest: Wreckage of Cardiff striker’s missing plane found in English Channel with ‘occupant visible’

Piper Malibu N264DB carrying the footballer and the pilot David Ibbotson disappeared on 21 January

Monday 04 February 2019 12:56 GMT
Missing Cardiff footballer Emiliano Sala - What we know so far

The wreckage of Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala’s doomed plane has been found on the bed of the English Channel.

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

Two vessels, including one commissioned by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, had been using sonar to search an area covering around four square nautical miles.

Marine scientist David Mearns, who is directing a privately-funded operation on behalf of the Sala family, confirmed the plane had been found.

“The wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Salah and pilot David Ibbotson has been located,” Mr Mearns said on Sky News.

He added that both families had been informed once the plane had been located and that investigations were underway.

“This is about the best result we could have hoped for the families. But tonight they have heard devastating news and in respect of the families I won’t comment any further about what has happened,” Mr Mearns said.

Mr Mearns, director of Blue Water Recoveries, claims to have located 24 major shipwrecks during his career, and was leading a team of seven others on the vessel.

His involvement was made possible after a campaign raised more than £260,000 to continue the search operation.

The fundraising came after the official search operation was called off on 24 January when Guernsey’s harbour master, Captain David Barker, said the chances of survival following such a long period were “extremely remote”.

Two seat cushions, which are likely to have come from the plane, were found earlier this week.

Cardiff had signed Sala for a club record £15m in January and he was due to start training last month.

Additional reporting from agencies

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