Sunday 17 February 2019

Underwater footage shows occupant in the wreckage of Emiliano Sala plane

Tragic: Missing Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala. Photo: Getty Images
Tragic: Missing Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala. Photo: Getty Images
Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth - Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - February 2, 2019 General view of fans gathered around the daffodils, shirts and scarves left outside the stadium to pay tribute to Emiliano Sala before the match. Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Still from handout video issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the rear left side of the fuselage, including part of the aircraft registration, in the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala, after it was discovered in the English Channel. AAIB/PA Wire
Handout image issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the position where the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala was discovered in the English Channel. AAIB/PA Wire
A tribute to Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala shown on the big screen during the FA Cup fourth round match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Photo credit: Simon Galloway/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane which crashed in the English Channel with Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala on board.

And shipwreck hunter David Mearns believes the bodies of Sala and pilot David Ibbotson could be recovered from the plane wreckage in the English Channel.

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch said footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located on Sunday.

Analysis of the footage by AAIB investigators confirmed the wreckage was of the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, which disappeared in poor weather near Guernsey on January 21.

Still from handout video issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the rear left side of the fuselage, including part of the aircraft registration, in the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala, after it was discovered in the English Channel. AAIB/PA Wire
Still from handout video issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the rear left side of the fuselage, including part of the aircraft registration, in the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala, after it was discovered in the English Channel. AAIB/PA Wire

The AAIB said in a statement: "The 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."

Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth - Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff - February 2, 2019. A Cardiff City fan holds up a scarf paying tribute to Emiliano Sala during the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth - Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff - February 2, 2019. A Cardiff City fan holds up a scarf paying tribute to Emiliano Sala during the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

The image shows the rear left side of the fuselage, including part of the aircraft registration, N264DB.

A decision has yet to be taken on whether to raise the wreckage to the surface.

The statement added: "The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police."

Earlier Mr Mearns said "most" of the plane was there, telling BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme: "We were expecting to find a debris field, it is broken, but most of it is there."

Asked whether the bodies were likely to still be on board, he said: "That's a possibility, and they will be planning for that as well.

"So there's a number of things the AAIB have to consider but their main role obviously is to conduct their investigation of what caused this crash."

Handout image issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the position where the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala was discovered in the English Channel. AAIB/PA Wire
Handout image issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the position where the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala was discovered in the English Channel. AAIB/PA Wire

Emiliano Sala's father spoke of his anguish and disbelief after wreckage of the plane was discovered.

Speaking at his home in Argentina, Horacio Sala said he was "desperate" after a privately-funded search operation found the aircraft in waters north of Guernsey on Sunday.

"I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate," Mr Sala told local broadcaster Cronica TV.

"I communicated with them every day, but since I do not have WhatsApp it's hard to call them or call me.

"They told me that the days passed and there was no news of Emiliano or the plane."

The Piper Malibu N264DB that had been carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson (59) disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

Two vessels, including one commissioned by the AAIB, using sonar had been taking part in a fresh search covering an area of around four square nautical miles.

A privately-funded operation on behalf of the Sala family was made possible after a campaign raised more than £260,000 to pay for it.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Mearns said: "This (locating the wreckage) is about the best result we could have hoped for the families.

"But tonight they have heard devastating news, and in respect of the families I won't comment any further about what has happened."

It has been an anxious and heartbreaking time for the Argentinian striker's family since his plane disappeared.

The plane had requested to descend before it lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

Cardiff had signed the footballer for a club record £15m (€17.1m) and he was due to start training last month.

Press Association

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