Body found in Emiliano Sala plane wreckage, first images revealed

Posted February 06, 2019

The Piper Malibu PA-46 carrying the 28-year-old striker, who moved to the Premier League club for £15 million (S$26.5 million) on Jan 19, and Ibbotson, 59, disappeared over the English Channel on Jan 21 after leaving Nantes for Cardiff.

"Tragically, in video footage from the [remotely operated vehicle], one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage", the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said.

The AAIB said that a decision had not yet been taken on whether to lift the wreckage and it was considering its next steps in conjunction with the families of Mr Sala and Mr Ibbotson.

"We intend to publish an interim report within one month of the accident occurring", it said.

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After the private search led by expert David Mearns began off the coast of Guernsey on Sunday morning, the wreckage was found at the bottom of the sea at around 9am, two weeks after the small aircraft went missing.

Marine scientist David Mearns - known as "the Shipwreck Hunter" - volunteered to help the Sala family for free after initial search and rescue efforts by a number of agencies failed.

Mr Mearns, who was co-ordinating a privately funded search for the aircraft, wrote on Twitter that "the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by police".

He said: "All I will say is that there is a substantial amount of wreckage on the seabed".

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According to Mearns, a "substantial amount of wreckage" was found but "surprisingly" the plane was largely intact. "It's a bad dream", he told Cronica TV from his home in Progreso, Argentina, before the news about the body was announced.

"I can not believe it".

But Sala's family launched a crowd-funding campaign for a private search, which raised over 300,000 euros.

A search boat located the plane Sunday morning after underwater searches commenced. This is what they wanted us to do, we've achieved it and that's the best we could have hoped for - the best outcome.

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Last week the investigation restarted when an individual walking along a beach in Surtainville, France, discovered two airplane chairs, which were believed to belong to the Piper Malibu plane the two men were travelling in. In the team's first game since he went missing, the opposing team included Sala's name in the game-day program and also provided daffodils as a symbol for the team Sala played for.