Body visible in football star’s plane wreckage

THE wreckage of a plane that was carrying Argentine soccer star Emiliano Sala has been located on the seabed of the English Channel and a body was visible inside, investigators said.

Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, were aboard the Piper Malibu that disappeared from radar on January 21 as it flew from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, Wales.

The 28-year-old played for Nantes in France's Ligue 1 and had just been signed by Cardiff's Premier League team, the New York Post reported.

The UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch said Monday that in video footage from a remotely operated submersible, "one occupant is visible amid the wreckage."

The plane carrying the soccer star disappeared from radar on January 21 as it flew from France to Wales. Picture: AP
The plane carrying the soccer star disappeared from radar on January 21 as it flew from France to Wales. Picture: AP

"The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police," it said.

"Having identified a priority search area last week, the AAIB agreed a search strategy with Blue Water Recoveries Ltd [the private company working with the family] to maximise the chance of locating the aircraft wreckage," the agency said.

"The AAIB commissioned specialist vessel Geo Ocean III, and Blue Water Recoveries Ltd commissioned FPV Morven and the search area was divided between the vessels. Both vessels began their search on the morning of Sunday 3 February."

The AAIB said the Morven identified an object of interest on the seabed using its side-scan sonar equipment," according to the UK's Guardian.

"It cleared the immediate area for the Geo Ocean III to use its underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to survey the area of the seabed in which the object was located. Based on analysis of ROV video footage, the AAIB investigators on-board the vessel concluded that the object is wreckage from the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, registration N264DB.

"The ROV carried out a further search of the area overnight, but did not identify any additional pieces of wreckage."

David Mearns, skipper of the search boat hired by Sala's family, confirmed that he found the debris in the English Channel north of Guernsey on Sunday morning.

"We located the wreckage of the plane on the seabed at a depth of about 63 meters very shortly after we started searching," Mearns said.

He said Sala's relatives were "desperately" hoping for the plane to be recovered.

Sala's distraught dad told local broadcaster Crónica TV that "he cannot believe it. This is a dream, a bad dream."

This article was originally published in theNew York Post and has been reproduced here with permission

News Corp Australia


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