The wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala which disappeared two weeks ago, has been found in the English Channel, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed.
The Private Investigators told Sky News that a search boat located the wreckage on the seabed on Sunday morning.
In a statement on Twitter, marine scientist David Mearns who ran the private search said: “Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning by the FPV MORVEN.
As agreed with the AAIB they moved the GEO OCEAN III over the position we provided them to visually identify the plane by ROV.”
Mearns further added : “The families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by Police. The AAIB will be making a statement tomorrow. Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David.”
A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) conducted a further search of the area overnight on Sunday and the AAIB says footage shows one of the aircraft’s occupants within the wreckage.
An AAIB statement on Monday read: “Having identified a priority search area last week, the AAIB agreed a search strategy with Blue Water Recoveries Ltd to maximise the chance of locating the aircraft wreckage.
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, 3rd February.
Early in the search, the Morven identified an object of interest on the seabed using its side-scan sonar equipment. 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.”
The statement further read : “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.
Tragically, in video footage from the ROV, one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage. The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police. The image shows the rear left side of the fuselage including part of the aircraft registration. We intend to publish an interim report within one month of the accident occurring.”
The Sala family has frequently called for official searches to continue after the officials have given up the search for Emiliano Sala. They have now raised funds for a private search which has been under way. The private search for the plane was funded by a GoFundMe campaign, which raised over £320,000.
A spokesman for the family said previously: “The family still have some hope, they’re looking at this as a missing person, a missing plane, and until they are satisfied, that’s the mode that we’re in.” There have been frequent tributes to the footballer at games in the UK and France, with moments of silence and applause held at games in his honour.
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