Emiliano Sala: ‘This is a bad dream,’ says father after missing plane is found in the English Channel

A privately-funded search operation located the aircraft in waters north of Guernsey on Sunday, after it disappeared over the Channel on 21 January

Samuel Lovett
Monday 04 February 2019 08:40
Missing Cardiff footballer Emiliano Sala - What we know so far

Emiliano Sala‘s father said he is living “a bad dream” after wreckage of the plane carrying the missing Cardiff City footballer was found on the bed of the English Channel.

A privately-funded search operation located the aircraft in waters north of Guernsey on Sunday, after it disappeared over the Channel on 21 January during its flight from Nantes to Cardiff.

Speaking at his home in Argentina, a “desperate” Horacio Sala spoke of his anguish and disbelief following news that the aircraft, which was carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, had been located.

“I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate,” Mr Sala told local broadcaster Cronica TV.

“I communicated with them every day, but since I do not have WhatsApp it’s hard to call them or call me.

“They told me that the days passed and there was no news of Emiliano or the plane.”

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 the privately-funded operation on behalf of the Sala family, confirmed the plane had been found on Sunday evening.

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

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 fans pay tribute to Sala outside the Cardiff City Stadium 

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

The club has paid tribute to Sala since, and won an emotionally-charged home clash with Bournemouth 2-0 on Saturday – their first game at home since the incident.

“The best,” Cardiff manager Warnock replied when asked about the two performances since Sala’s disappearance.

“I can’t be more proud. If we didn’t get another point this year, I’d still think the players have been amazing.

“I look around the dressing room, the characters and where they’ve come from, and know I couldn’t ask any more of any of them.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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