Missing Soccer Stars Plane Wreckage Found In Channel

Emiliano Sala’s Plane Wreckage Discovered Wreckage from a plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala has been discovered in the English Channel. The Piper Malibu N264DB was lost on...

Emiliano Sala’s Plane Wreckage Discovered

Wreckage from a plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala has been discovered in the English Channel. The Piper Malibu N264DB was lost on January 21 on its way from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, with the Argentine striker and pilot David Ibbotson on board.

Accident investigators are expected to send a submersible to inspect the wreckage later on Monday. David Mearns, who led a privately-funded search for the aircraft, said it was located off Guernsey on Sunday. He said: “All I will say is that there is a substantial amount of wreckage on the seabed.”

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today program on Monday, Mearns said: “We located the wreckage of the plane on the seabed at a depth of about 63 meters within the first couple of hours [of searching].” He said the plane was identified by sonar before a submersible with cameras was sent underwater and was able to confirm it was the plane.

“They saw the registration number and the biggest surprise is that most of the plane is there,” he added. Mearns’s private search has now been stood down and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is at the site working to recover the plane.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, marine scientist Mearns said: “The families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by police.”

He added: “Our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David.”

Speaking to Argentinian broadcaster Cronica TV, Sala’s father Horacio said: “I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate.” Mearns said he was in contact with the Sala family after the wreckage was located and said they would “desperately like the plane to be recovered”.

He said further investigations by the AAIB would be conducted over the next two days in order to determine how it will attempt a recovery operation. Cardiff had signed Sala for a club record of £15 million and he was due to start training last month.

The 28-year-old striker and Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, were travelling from Nantes, where he had previously played when the flight lost contact with air traffic controllers. An official search operation was called off on 24 January after Guernsey’s harbor master said the chances of survival were “extremely remote”.

Cushions believed to be from the plane were found on a beach near Surtainville, on France’s Cotentin Peninsula, last week. There were emotional tributes to the footballer as Cardiff played their first home game since the disappearance on Saturday.

The club’s manager, Neil Warnock, said he felt Sala was “with” his team as they beat Bournemouth 2-0 in the Premier League. An online appeal had raised £324,000 (371,000 euros) for the private search, which began on Sunday.

Working jointly with the AAIB, Mearns’s ship and another search vessel, the Geo Ocean III, began combing a four square mile area of the channel, 24 nautical miles north of Guernsey.

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