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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 off 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.

An official search was called off but the privately-funded hunt for the plane started after £324,000 was raised in a GoFundMe appeal.

It will focus on an area of four square nautical miles which were identified after cushions, believed to be from the plane, were washed up on a beach near Surtainville on France’s Cotentin Peninsula.

Image copyright Josette Bernard
Image caption This unverified image shows a cushion which was found on the beach, believed to be from the plane

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”.

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

Image copyright A-2-Sea Solutions
Image caption The FPV Morven will work with a Ministry of Defence vessel to find the missing plane

High-profile donors include France and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, former West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet and Leicester City winger Demarai Gray.

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 the cushions helped it identify a priority search area.

However, this boat is not due to start searching until the weekend due to sea conditions and weather.

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