Wales

Emiliano Sala: Seabed search boat arrives in Guernsey

Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson Image copyright Getty Images/David Ibbotson
Image caption Emiliano Sala (left) was on board a plane being flown by pilot David Ibbotson

A ship that will search the seabed for missing footballer Emiliano Sala's plane has arrived in Guernsey.

The FPV Morven left Southampton on Wednesday and will be used by a team led by shipwreck hunter David Mearns.

Cardiff City's new signing Sala, 28, disappeared with pilot David Ibbotson, 59, over the English Channel last week.

The privately-funded hunt for the plane started after £324,000 was raised in a GoFundMe appeal.

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Media captionJosette Bernard saw the item during her afternoon walk

Sala signed for Cardiff City for £15m and was travelling to the Welsh capital from Nantes, where he previously played, when his plane disappeared.

Guernsey authorities stopped looking for Sala and Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle in Lincolnshire, on Thursday, with officials saying the chance of them being alive was "extremely remote".

Image caption The FPV Morven has arrived in Guernsey

But after a plea from his sister not to give up, more than £324,000 was raised for the private search.

Initially two local fishing boats were chartered to visually scan the surface but they lacked the sophisticated equipment needed.

Mr Mearns said the FPV Morven would work in "close collaboration" with a special survey vessel from the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) salvage and marine operations team.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch announced the MoD boat had been chartered on Wednesday after the discovery of cushions, believed to be from the plane, helped it identify a priority search area.

It will focus on an area of four square nautical miles which was identified after the cushions washed up on a beach near Surtainville on France's Cotentin Peninsula.

Both the FPV Morven and the MoD boat are not due to start searching until the weekend due to sea conditions and weather.

Image copyright Jean-Paul Barbier/La Presse de la Manche
Image caption Josette Bernard shows a photograph she took of debris she found on the beach at Surtainville

Josette Bernard, who took photographs of the cushions, said: "While taking my usual afternoon walk I saw something in the waves which looked like a grey square container.

"However, the closer I got I realised it wasn't that at all. It looked like the backrest of a seat.

"I immediately thought that it could have come from the plane that had gone missing the week before so I called the police."

She made the discovery last Saturday and said police told her "it was possible" it came from the missing plane.

Ms Bernard later found two other pieces of debris that she said looked like they could have come from the window of a cabin.

"Of course I'm thinking of the families of the footballer and the pilot, who need to find the bodies of the missing people so they can mourn," she added.

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