Emiliano Sala latest: Underwater search for 'wreckage' of doomed plane to begin on Sunday

The Piper PA-46 Malibu plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson vanished from radar nearly a fortnight ago over the Channel

Sister of Emiliano Sala: Please resume the search for my missing brother

An underwater search for the missing plane carrying Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson is set to begin on Sunday, it has been confirmed.

The Piper PA-46 Malibu plane vanished from radar nearly a fortnight ago over the English Channel with a subsequent search for the player, who had only days before signed for Premier League Cardiff City, eventually called off when "no trace" was found and "absolutely no chance" of finding anyone alive.

Wreckage believed to be from the missing light aircraft was discovered this week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula on mainland France with an underwater search in that area now set to begin.

David Mearns, a marine explorer working with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed that the search is set to focus on finding "wreckage" rather than an intact plane.

He added the rescue efforts, which will begin at 7am, will continue "until the plane is located."

The two seat cushions likely to have come from the plane were discovered on Monday.

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

It went on: "Since we opened our safety investigation on Tuesday 23 January, we have been gathering evidence such as flight, aircraft and personnel records, and have been analysing radar data and air traffic tapes.

"We have been working closely with other international authorities and have kept the families of those involved updated on our progress."

The AAIB established a "priority search area" of around four square nautical miles and commissioned a specialist vessel to carry out a survey of the seabed.

Due to the weather and sea conditions, this is now expected to start on Sunday and could take up to three days. If wreckage is found, a remotely operated vehicle will be used to examine it.

The seat cushion found on the beach in northern France

The AAIB said it is aware that a privately-funded search is also being conducted and is "liaising closely with those involved to maximise the chance of locating any wreckage and ensure a safe search operation".

The plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

It requested to descend then lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

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