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Emiliano Sala: Seabed search for plane off Guernsey

Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson
Image caption Emiliano Sala (left) was on board a plane being flown by pilot David Ibbotson

A seabed search for the missing plane carrying footballer Emiliano Sala and his pilot could start on Sunday.

Cardiff City’s new signing disappeared with pilot David Ibbotson over the English Channel on 21 January.

Two vessels will conduct sonar surveys off Guernsey, said David Mearns who is coordinating part of the search.

Cushions believed to be from the plane were found on a beach near Surtainville, on France’s Cotentin Peninsula, on Monday.

Argentine Sala, 28, and Mr Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, were travelling from Nantes, where Sala previously played, when the flight was lost.Image copyright A-2-Sea SolutionsImage caption FPV Morven arrived from Southampton on Thursday

Cardiff City play their first match at home since Sala, the club’s record £15m signing, went missing.

A minute’s silence is planned before the game with Bournemouth at 17:30 GMT.

Cardiff’s match shirts will be embroidered with daffodils and players will warm up in t-shirts paying tribute to Sala.

Speaking from Guernsey harbour, Mr Mearns said his team would work jointly with a second vessel commissioned by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

They plan to search an area covering two square miles about 24 nautical miles north of Guernsey.

It has been based on the flight path before it lost radar contact, said Mr Mearns, a shipwreck hunter.

“The family are devastated and struggling with what has happened,” he said.

“What we are doing is trying to provide some answers for them.”

An official search following the plane’s disappearance was called off after three days with Guernsey officials saying there was little chance those on board survived.

It prompted a privately-funded search to be set up after £324,000 was raised in an online appeal.

Sala’s family arrived on Guernsey following his disappearance and were taken to see the area that was searched, circling the island of Alderney.

Mr Mearns said both vessels would divide the search area in half, looking for “wreckage” and a “debris field” in a depth of 60-120m (196-390ft).

He said he was not surprised that the cushions had washed up on the beach in France, given the tides.

“We will continue to work until the plane is located,” he said.AdvertisementsREPORT THIS ADREPORT THIS AD

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