Two weeks after a light aircraft carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot disappeared in the English Channel, its wreckage was found on Sunday morning, media reports said.
The 28-year-old footballer was a record signing of Premier League side Cardiff City this year. On January 21, British pilot David Ibbotson was flying Sala from France to Cardiff, where the latter was to join his new club, when the plane disappeared north of the island of Guernsey.
The family of Emiliano Sala had hired shipwreck hunter David Mearns’s private company Blue Water Recoveries after the official rescue effort was called off. Mearns told BBC radio that the plane was found on Sunday morning. “It is broken but most of it is there.”
Asked if the bodies of Sala and Ibbotson would be inside the plane, he said: “That’s a possibility.”
From his home in Progreso, Argentina, Sala’s shocked father Horacio told Cronica TV: “I can’t believe it. It’s a bad dream.”
“I can confirm it has been found,” AFP reported quoting a spokesperson for Britain’s official Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
A further statement is expected later on Monday.
Sala was transferred to Cardiff City from French team Nantes for 17 million Euro, which was a record deal for the Welsh team.
On 21 January, the Piper PA-46 Malibu plan carrying him vanished from radar around 20 km north of Guernsey. More than 4,500 contributors, including top footballers, raised over 300,000 euros through a crowdfunding page to look for the wreckage.
As Cardiff played Bournemouth on Saturday, Sala’s photograph appeared on the front cover of the match-day programme, and the two captains laid floral tributes on the halfway line before what the club called a “silent reflection”.
Sala’s name, in the Argentina colours, was spelt out behind one of the goals.
(With AFP inputs)