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Emiliano Sala: Underwater search to begin for missing plane

16:37 GMT 28/01/2019
Emiliano Sala Nantes
The search for the missing Cardiff City striker has resumed after funds were raised to help facilitate his family's wishes

An underwater search for the missing plane that was carrying Emiliano Sala to Cardiff is set to begin, it has been confirmed.

Over 4,500 people donated to a GoFundMe page set up on January 25 to raise €300,000 to resume the hunt, with the target being reached in less than three days.

The initial search for Cardiff City's record signing was brought to an end on Thursday, prompting calls from all over that the search should resume.

With the crowdfunding target now surpassed, the director of Bluewater Recoveries, David Mearns, spoke to the press.

"We have sourced and hired a survey vessel equipped with state of the art search equipment, which will be used to conduct an underwater search for the wreckage in the area of the last radar contact," Mearns said.

"The survey vessel is currently being mobilised in Southampton, and subject to weather conditions, will be re-positioned to Guernsey on Thursday or Friday this week.

"Based on current weather predictions, we are hopeful that the underwater search will begin on the weekend, most probably on Sunday."

In the meantime, local fishing boats have been enlisted to help scour the surface water for the Piper PA-46 Malibu, which originally disappeared from radar close to the Channel Islands, before the submarine search gets underway.

Guernsey Harbour Master Captain David Barker said recently that the chances of survival for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were extremely remote, though Mearns said that the Argentine's family have not given up.

“The family still have some hope,” he said. “They're looking at this as a missing person, a missing plane, and until they are satisfied that's the mode we're in.

“This is a family that have come from Argentina with this huge shock out of nowhere and struggling with what had happened, with very, very few answers about an unexplained loss.”

Speaking earlier this week, Cardiff owner Vincent Tan relayed his own hopes for a positive outcome.

“Those who met Emiliano described a good-natured and humble young man who was eager to impress in the Premier League," Tan said.

“The response from the football community has been truly touching and we place on record our sincere thanks to those who have sent messages of support.

“We also thank everyone involved with the search and rescue operation, and continue to pray for Emiliano, David Ibbotson and their families.”