New Search for Emiliano Sala Begins

3 February 2019, 07:30 | Updated: 3 February 2019, 07:35

sala capital

Marine scientist David Mearns, who is directing a privately-funded operation on behalf of the Sala family, said the weather conditions are expected to be good enough to allow it to start.

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is also sending a team aboard a vessel, the Geo Ocean III, which is due to arrive at the search area north of Guernsey at around 9am.

The Piper Malibu N264DB 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.

Blue Water Recoveries director Mr Mearns, who claims to have located 24 major shipwrecks during his career, said he would be leading a team of seven other people on the vessel FPV Morven and it would be operating around the clock.

He said the the search is being carried out "in close co-ordination" with the AAIB, which will take part in the operation for three days, as it searches an area of around four square nautical miles.

Mr Mearns said the AAIB has a "high confidence level" the plane could be in that zone but it could have moved once on the seabed.

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

An official search operation was called off on January 24 after Guernsey's harbour master Captain David Barker said the chances of survival following such a long period were "extremely remote".

Two seat cushions, which are likely to have come from the plane, were found earlier this week.

The AAIB was advised by its French counterparts on Monday that part of a cushion was found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula.

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

Cardiff had signed the Argentinian striker for a club record £15 million and he was due to start training last month.