Missing aircraft carrying Emiliano Sala found

Saul Bowman
February 5, 2019

LONDON-A search team has found the wreckage of the plane that carried missing soccer player Emiliano Sala and his pilot, and a body could be seen inside, investigators said on February 4.

The plane, a Piper Malibu with the registration N264DB, had been taking Sala to Cardiff from Nantes in France on 21 January, shortly after the 28-year-old signed for the Premiership club Cardiff City.

He and his pilot David Ibbotson were flying to Cardiff after the Argentinian striker made a visit over to say goodbye to his former teammates at Nantes.

Sala's distraught dad told local broadcaster Crónica TV that "he can not believe it. A bad dream. I am desperate", he told reporters.

It was found by a sea search vessel paid for by Sala's family yesterday and a small submarine [ROV] with an HD camera confirmed it was the Piper Malibu that disappeared over the Channel Islands two weeks ago.

Sala's family had maintained hope that the player would be found alive, though the news that the aircraft was located along with reports that an occupant was visible inside it on the seabed, appear to have extinguished any faint hopes they had.

The official search operation was called off on January 24 after Guernsey's harbor master, Captain David Barker, said "the chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote".

"I understand their priorities are a little bit different to the families' (priorities), but I don't think they can rest now", Mearns told British radio station Talk Sport.

Top footballers were among more than 4,500 contributors to a crowdfunding page that raised over 300,000 euros ($343,000) to look for the wreckage.

Mearns, a renowned shipwreck hunter who headed the private search for Sala, confirmed to the media yesterday via Twitter that the wreckage was found.

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock during a minute of silence for Emiliano Sala ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Cardiff and Bournemouth at the Cardiff City Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. "But tonight they have heard devastating news and in respect of the families I won't comment any further about what has happened", Mearns was quoted as saying to Sky News.

Cushions likely to have come from the plane were discovered on a beach in France near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula by French authorities on Wednesday.

Cardiff City held a ceremony for Sala prior to its game against Arsenal last week, the team's first match since he went missing.

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