A body has been found in the search for footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson. The unidentified man is still inside the aircraft, which was found on the seabed near Guernsey.
A privately funded campaign allowed oceanographer and marine scientist David Mearns to undertake a deep sea search for the wreckage. The online appeal raised £324,000 for a search, which stars such as Lionel Messi donated to.
Working jointly with the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), Mearns’ ship and another search vessel, the Geo Ocean III, began combing a four square mile area of the channel, 24 nautical miles north of Guernsey.
Mearns confirmed that the wreckage had been found on Sunday, roughly 207ft (63m) underwater off the coast of Guernsey, just after a “couple of hours” of searching.
The AAIB confirmed the wreckage had been found, and said that a body was still within the aircraft.
“The remotely operated vehicle (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.”AAIB
Mearns said he approached the Sala family offering his services after seeing an emotional plea from Romina, the footballer’s sister..
“We wanted to go out there and find plane. We’re pleased that that happened. It’s going to be, people use the word closure, but this is just the first step. It’s a long, long way. But at least this is the route for people, for them, to have answers.
“That said, if they never had these answers, if the plane was never located, I don’t think the family would ever rest.”David Mearns