Body found in channel plane wreckage search

Marine scientist David Mearns

Marine scientist David Mearns

A spokesman for the AAIB said: "We are attempting to recover the body". 'It's even more imperative that the plane and the body are recovered.

Emiliano and pilot David Ibbotson are both now missing, presumed dead, after their plane went missing two weeks ago.

Mearns, who has spearheaded around 20 historic wreck discoveries including one of Britain's most famous battleships, the HMS Hood, offered his services to the Sala family for free and has been in constant contact with them.

However lifting the plane out of the water - at around 60m below - is no simple task and there are fears it may be impossible.

After the plane's wreckage was found underwater on Sunday, the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed the sighting of one as-yet-undentified body.

The operation will be conducted by the Ministry of Defence's Salvage and Marine Operations (S&MO) in partnership with the AAIB.

Mr Mearns - who is known as the "Shipwreck Hunter" - and his team found the plane within two hours of commencing their search.

"The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families and the police".

Mr Mears approached the Sala family offering to look for the wreck after a crowdfunding page to look for the plane raised £340,000 (371,000 euros).

The wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was discovered on Sunday, February 3.

Working jointly with the AAIB, his ship and another search vessel, the Geo Ocean III, began combing a four square mile area of the English Channel, 24 nautical miles north of Guernsey.

'No-one should walk away with the impression that the coastguard and also the Channel Islands air search did anything other than a professional job, ' he said.

Mearns got involved in the search for Sala's missing plane after a widespread air search failed to find a trace of the aircraft following its disappearance on 21 January.

Sala had signed for Cardiff for a club record £15m on 19 January and had flown back to Nantes to say goodbye to his team-mates. Parts of the plane were first believed to have been discovered last week when two seat cushions were found on the French coast.

The tragedy has rocked the football community around the world, with Cardiff players, officials and fans flooding their home ground with tributes to the Argentine.

Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock said he felt Sala was "with" his team as they beat Bournemouth 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday. A bad dream. I am desperate'.

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