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30 Jan, 2019 14:19

Emiliano Sala search: Debris ‘likely from missing plane’ found on French beach

Emiliano Sala search: Debris ‘likely from missing plane’ found on French beach

Two seats cushions which likely came from the missing plane carrying Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala have been found on a French beach, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has said.

Sala disappeared over the English Channel on Monday of last week while he was traveling from France to Wales to join new team Cardiff City, whom he had joined from Nantes as the club’s record signing just two days previously.    

The search for the Piper Malibu plane carrying the player, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson was formally called off on Thursday, with police saying the three-day effort had found no trace of the aircraft and that “the chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote.”

Also on rt.com Police call off search for missing footballer Sala and plane pilot

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch has now announced:"On the morning of Monday January 28, we were advised by the Bureau d'Enquetes & d'Analyses, the French safety investigation authority, that part of a seat cushion had been found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula.

"A second cushion was found in the same area later that day.

"From a preliminary examination, we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft."

An undwerwater search will be launched in the coming days, using sonar equipment to try to find further possible plane remnants, an AAIB spokesman said. 

The initial ending of formal efforts to find Sala and the pilot prompted impassioned calls from the player’s family and fellow professionals including Argentine star Lionel Messi for the search to continue.

Also on rt.com ‘As long as there’s a shred of hope’: Messi makes impassioned plea for Sala search to resume

An online fund was also set up for a private search to begin, which surpassed its €300,000 (US$342,000) target and began work on Sunday.  

Tributes were held at recent games across the UK and France, and Sala's name was included in the program for Cardiff's game at Arsenal on Tuesday night, in a touching gesture by the London club.