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Officials: Wreckage 'likely' from plane that disappeared with soccer star

By Ed Adamczyk
Officials: Wreckage 'likely' from plane that disappeared with soccer star
Soccer fans in Nantes, France, pay tribute to Emiliano Sala after his disappearance January 21 aboard a private plane over the English Channel. Photo by Eddy Lemistre/EPA-EFE

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Authorities think they've found wreckage from a private plane that disappeared last week carrying soccer star Emiliano Sala, British authorities said Wednesday.

Sala, an Argentinian playing for the British Premier League's Cardiff City team, has not been seen since the plane disappeared last week. He was aboard a U.S.-registered Piper Malibu plane, which was flying from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, Wales, which disappeared Jan. 21 over the English Channel.

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A formal search of the area, centered on the Channel Islands of Alderney and Guernsey, was called off after three days.

The plane's registered pilot, David Ibbotson, is also missing.

The British government's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said in an update Wednesday French searchers have found two seat cushions that likely came from the plane. They were found on a beach on the Cotentin peninsula, which borders the English Channel.

"From a preliminary examination we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft," the AAIB said, adding that it will continue looking for the plane.

Cardiff City began its match against Arsenal on Tuesday -- the first game the team played since its star forward was lost -- with a ceremony that included the presentation of daffodils, which have cultural significance in Wales and Nantes, where Sala formerly played.

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