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Emiliano Sala

Wreckage of Sala's plane found

Wreckage of Sala's plane found

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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala which disappeared has been found.

The wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala which disappeared has been found in the English Channel, the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed.

David Mearns, who is co-ordinating the privately funded search for the aircraft which was carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, stated the wreckage was discovered on Sunday morning and added their families have been informed.

The AAIB confirmed to Omnisport the debris had been located, with an official statement to follow on Monday as attempts to recover the aircraft begin.

"Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning [Sunday] by the FPV MORVEN," Mearns wrote on Twitter.

"As agreed with the AAIB they moved the GEO OCEAN III over the position we provided them to visually identify the plane by ROV.

"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."

"Incredibly tragic and sad"

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Mearns said: "Our job is done. This is an active investigation now in the hands of the AAIB [the UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch], and they will be taking over as agreed. We've had a long trip back and all I could think about was the families. 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. An incredibly tragic and sad, and a devastating moment, but at least some of their questions will be answered because of what we will be able to do today."

An underwater search had begun earlier on Sunday, involving the AAIB and a privately funded vessel.

The previous significant update from the AAIB had come when seat cushions thought to be from the plane were found on a beach in northern France on Wednesday.

It is 10 days since Guernsey Police ceased looking for the Piper Malibu aircraft, which Sala was aboard with Ibbotson.

The plane went missing over the English Channel en route to Cardiff from Nantes on January 21.

Sala, 28, had just completed a transfer to Cardiff City and had been back in France bidding farewell to his former team-mates at Ligue 1 side Nantes.

Initial search and rescue efforts had spanned three days without finding any trace of the plane, before the authorities opted to call a halt to their scanning of the area.

The Guernsey harbourmaster Captain David Barker called their chances of survival "extremely remote", but a number of high-profile football figures and members of the public answered the family's calls to fund a private search operation that has been headed up by Mearns.