Emiliano Sala Plane Found in English Channel, Report

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Emiliano Sala Plane Found in English Channel, Report
Emiliano Sala Plane Found in English Channel, Report

The wreckage of the plane carrying Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala was located on Sunday, two weeks after it disappeared from radar over the English Channel, according to the marine scientist leading a privately funded search for the Argentinian’s family.

David Mearns, an American-born shipwreck-hunting specialist, made the announcement on Twitter after returning to the island of Guernsey from the search and police informed the families of the two men on board.

Sala and David Ibbotson, the pilot of the small aircraft, are presumed dead by authorities.

“This is about the best result we could have hoped for the families,” Mearns told British broadcaster Sky News.

The Piper Malibu flying plane Cardiff City’s new £15million striker vanished after hitting bad weather.

Sala was being flown on the evening of January 21 from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff after being signed by the Welsh capital’s Premier League team.

The main search for the plane was called off after three days, but Sala’s family launched a fundraising initiative that led to Mearns bringing his expertise to the mission.

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Mearns did a search in conjunction with Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which also deployed a vessel for a search of the seabed on Sunday.

“Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning by the FPV MORVEN,” Mearns wrote on a Twitter account, referencing the survey vessel.

“As agreed with the AAIB they moved the GEO OCEAN III over the position we provided them to visually identify the plane by ROV [remotely operated underwater vehicle].”

Mearns said a statement from the AAIB is expected on Monday.

“Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David,” Mearns said.

Cardiff signed the 28-year-old Sala from Nantes for a club-record fee on January 19.

The striker left Cardiff after signing his deal and returned to Nantes to collect his belongings and say goodbye to team-mates and staff of the French club.

He never made it back to Cardiff to start playing in the Premier League.

Cardiff paid tribute to Sala by beating Bournemouth 2-0 in the Premier League on an emotional evening in the Welsh capital on Saturday.

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Bobby Reid’s double – a fifth-minute penalty and a clinical finish within 15 seconds of the second-half restart – gave Cardiff only their second win in nine league games on a night which was about a lot more than football.

This was Cardiff’s first home game since Sala and Ibbotson went missing after the plane carrying them over the English Channel disappeared, two days after he completed a move from Nantes.

Enough money was raised online to allow Sala’s family to fund a private search after an official rescue operation for the light aircraft was called off. Authorities said there were unlikely to be any survivors.

Programme notes, penned by Cardiff owner Vincent Tan and the rest of the Bluebirds’ board, said events shook “Cardiff City to its very core” and they were now playing for Sala and Ibbotson.

There was a series of tributes before kickoff. Sala’s photograph appeared on the front cover of the matchday programme and the two captains, Sol Bamba and Andrew Surman, laid floral tributes on the halfway line.

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Sala’s name, in the colours of his native Argentina, was also spelled out behind one of the goals as supporters held cards aloft.

Cardiff’s players, who sported daffodils embroidered on their shirts in Sala’s honour, celebrated Reid’s first goal by racing to the home dugout and holding up a blue shirt bearing Sala’s photograph.

Last Wednesday, his former club Nantes paid their own emotional tribute in their league match against against Saint-Etienne, chanting Sala’s name non-stop.

It was Nantes’ first home game since Sala’s disappearance and the referee halted play after nine minutes so the crowd could applaud him and sing his name over and over again.

“It was a very special night, we played more for him than for us,” Nantes defender Diego Carlos said after the 1-1 draw. “We gave everything for him.”

Fans broke out into long and sustained chants of “Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala, Emiliano, Emiliano, Emiliano Sala” around the stadium when the referee paused the match for more than one minute.

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