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Tearful family and friends gather for footballer Sala's wake and funeral (PHOTOS)

Tearful family and friends gather for footballer Sala's wake and funeral (PHOTOS)
Mourners are gathering to pay their respects to footballer Emiliano Sala in his Argentinian homeland as the funeral and wake are held for the Cardiff City player, who tragically died in a plane crash in the English channel.

The 28-year-old’s body was returned to Argentina earlier in the week, and mourners including friends and family are meeting at a wake at Club Atletico Social San Martin, the club Sala played for during his youth in his hometown, Progreso.

There will later be a funeral in Santa Fe, where Sala’s body will be cremated.

READ MORE: Footballer Sala died of 'head and chest injuries,' inquest hears

Among the mourners is the striker’s distraught sister Romina, who made impassioned calls for the search for her brother to continue after his initial disappearance. She was pictured under a hoodie as she prepared for the mourning services. 

Sala’s aunt, Mirta Taffarel, was also pictured in tears as she spoke to reporters.

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock will also attend the memorial services, while thousands of fans are set to offer their support with personal tributes.

Sala disappeared while traveling in a Piper Malibu aircraft piloted by David Ibbotson over the English Channel on January 21.

They were returning to the UK from France, here Sala had been bidding farewell to former teammates at Nantes before joining new club Cardiff City.

Also on rt.com 'So cruel': UEFA confirm Champions League matches to hold minute's silence for Emiliano Sala

Sala had signed for Cardiff in a record £15 million (US$19 million) deal just days earlier.

The official search for the plane wreckage was called off after three days, before being relaunched after a private funding campaign. His body was later found and identified.

The body of Ibbotson has yet to be recovered, with efforts called off due to difficulties with weather conditions.

An online campaign is aiming to raise funds to restart the search for the 58-year-old missing pilot.

Also on rt.com Kylian Mbappe donates $35K to Sala pilot search fund

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