Two seat cushions have been found which are likely to have come from the plane carrying missing footballer Emiliano Sala, UK investigators have said.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was advised by its French counterparts on Monday that part of a cushion was found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula.
A second cushion was found in the same area later that day. Two seat cushions believed to be from the plane carrying Emiliano Sala have been found.
The AAIB said in a statement: ‘From a preliminary examination we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft.
Since we opened our safety investigation on Tuesday January 23, we have been gathering evidence such as flight, aircraft and personnel records, and have been analyzing radar data and air traffic tapes.
We have been working closely with other international authorities and have kept the families of those involved updated on our progress.
The AAIB has established a ‘priority search area’ of around four square nautical miles and commissioned a specialist vessel to carry out a survey of the seabed.
Due to the weather and sea conditions, this is expected to start at the end of this weekend and could take up to three days. The wreckage was found off the coast of Surtainville
Earlier this week, Sala’s family said they were ‘struggling’ for answers as a private search got under way
If wreckage is found, a remotely operated vehicle will be used to examine it. The AAIB said it is aware that a privately-funded search is also being conducted and is liaising closely with those involved to maximise the chance of locating any wreckage and ensure a safe search operation.
The Piper PA-46 Malibu in which Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were travelling disappeared off the radar on January 21 and an official search operation was called off on Thursday.
Pleas for the search to resume have come from the 28-year-old player’s family, Argentinian football stars Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Sergio Aguero, and the country’s president Mauricio Macri.
Donations from footballers including Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan helped a GoFundMe page raising money for a private search surpass the €300,000 euro (£259,000) target.
An update on the site when the target was reached said Sala’s family wanted to thank people for their generosity.