On January 21, soccer player Emiliano Sala was traveling via a private plane between England and France when the aircraft suddenly disappeared over the English Channel. After 24 hours of searching and no sign of a plane or debris anywhere, the athlete was presumed dead.
It’s taken more than a week, but the first bit of debris that is believed to be from Sala’s plane has been found, according to ESPN.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch says that seat cushions have been found that are believed to be related to the disappearance of Sala. The discovery was made on Monday on a beach in France by French authorities.
“From a preliminary examination, we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft,” the AAIB said in a statement.
The search party is now planning to extend the search for the debris of the plane to an underwater platform. Unfortunately, due to rough weather currently being experienced in the region, they will only start the underwater search over the weekend. A remotely operated device will be used to conduct that search.
“Based on a detailed assessment of the flight path and last known radar position, we have now identified a priority search area of approximately four square nautical miles,” they said.
Seat cushions from a missing plane believed to be carrying Emiliano Sala were found washed up on a beach in France on Monday.https://t.co/DmSWLIRxYO
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) January 30, 2019
Sala had only just announced that he had signed a deal with Cardiff City — worth a whopping $19.3 million — the Saturday before his disappearance. He was previously contracted to French club Nantes, and had said goodbye to his teammates. The soccer player was traveling to the Welsh capital when his plane disappeared.
The 28-year-old’s disappearance has greatly affected both his former and his new team, with both playing tribute to him during their first games since the plane vanished. When Nantes played on Wednesday, play was stopped in the ninth minute for a minute of applause for Sala. Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock stated that since the player’s disappearance, he has had days where he “didn’t want to get out of bed.”
A number of his soon-to-be teammates have also had to undergo counseling after the news of his disappearance.
The search being conducted by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is not the only one underway. A private search is also being conducted by Sport Cover through a crowdfunding page that has been set up. Several soccer players have donated to the crowdfunding page.