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Search crew locates wreckage of plane carrying soccer star

By Darryl Coote
A search funded by the Sala family has discovered the wreckage of the plane Emiliano Sala was aboard when it went missing over the English Channel Jan. 21. File Photo by Eddy Lemaistre/EPA-EFE
A search funded by the Sala family has discovered the wreckage of the plane Emiliano Sala was aboard when it went missing over the English Channel Jan. 21. File Photo by Eddy Lemaistre/EPA-EFE

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The wreckage of a small plane carrying Argentine soccer star Emiliano Sala has been found, officials said.

Sala, 28, was aboard a U.S.-registered Piper Malibu Plane, flying from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, Wales, when it disappeared over the English Channel on Jan. 21. Marine scientist David Mearns said the wreckage was found Sunday morning. He said the families of Sala and David Ibbotson, who was registered as its pilot, have been notified.

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"Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David," Mearns wrote later Sunday.

A formal search by British authorities for the single-engine plane was called off after three days last week as the "chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote," Guernsey police harbor master Capt. David Barker said in a statement.

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A privately funded search by the Sala family started Sunday. It was headed by Mearns, the director of Blue Water Recoveries, aboard the FPV Morven vessel, CNN reported.

Mearns' team was working closely with U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch during its three-day search of the area where the plane went missing, British aviation authorities said on Twitter.

The soccer star was en route to his new English Premier League club Cardiff City, where he had recently signed a $19.3 million contract.

Cardiff City held a ceremony for Sala prior to its game against Arsenal last week, the team's first match since he went missing.

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