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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Man Leading Search for Sala's Plane Says Wreckage Found


7Dnews London

Mon, 04 Feb 2019 11:30 GMT

The wreckage of the plane carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala was located on Sunday February 3rd, two weeks after it disappeared from radar over the English Channel, according to the marine scientist leading a privately funded search for the Argentine's family.

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

Sala was being flown on January 21st 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 fund-raising initiative that led to David Mearns, an American-born shipwreck-hunting specialist, bringing his expertise to the mission. 

Mearns did a search in conjunction with Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which also deployed a vessel for a search of the seabed on Sunday February 3rd. He wrote on a Twitter account, referencing the survey vessel, "Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning by the FPV MORVEN." 

Mearns said a statement from the AAIB is expected on Monday February 4th, adding, "Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David." 

Cardiff signed the 28-year-old Sala from Nantes for a club-record fee, reported to be 15 million pounds ($19 million), on January 19th. The striker left Cardiff after signing his deal and returned to Nantes to say goodbye to teammates and staff of the French topflight club. He never made it back to Cardiff to start playing in the Premier League. 

At its first home game since the plane disappeared, Cardiff paid tribute to Sala before a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday February 2nd. 

There was a series of tributes before kick-off, with Sala's photograph appearing on the front cover of the match day programme and the two captains laying floral tributes on the halfway line. 

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 a goal by racing to the home dugout and holding up a blue shirt bearing Sala's photograph.