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'We hope they can rescue him as soon as possible': Emiliano Sala's father speaks after discovery of body

Emiliano and his father Horacio Sala (right). Credit: AP

Emiliano Sala's father has thanked those who have supported the search after wreckage of the plane carrying the missing Premier League footballer was found nearly two weeks after it disappeared.

He said he hopes the rescue teams can find his son as soon as possible.

"We hope that they can rescue him as soon as possible in order to find out what happened, or at least to have some degree of certainty." Mr Sala said.

He acknowledged "all the players that have contributed and given money because it was an expensive search".

He also said he'd like "to thank all the people that have supported everyone."

  • Video report by ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn

On Monday, underwater video footage revealed one person visible in the wreckage of the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

Parts of the aircraft, which disappeared with Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board in January, were found in waters north of Guernsey on Sunday after a privately crowd-funded search was launched.

The AAIB helped to identify the aircraft using a robotic vehicle called a ROV.

In a statement, the AAIB said: "Based on analysis of ROV video footage, the AAIB investigators on board the vessel concluded that the object is wreckage from the missing Piper Malibu aircraft, registration N264DB.

"The ROV carried out a further search of the area overnight, but did not identify any additional pieces of wreckage.

"Tragically, in video footage from the ROV, one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage. The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police."

A tribute to Emiliano Sala on the Cardiff City match day programme on Saturday. Credit: PA

Two vessels, including one commissioned by the AAIB, using sonar had taken part in a fresh search covering an area of around four square nautical miles on Sunday when the wreckage was located.

Marine scientist David Mearns, the director of Blue Water Recoveries, led a team on the search vessel FPV Morven while the AAIB also sent a team aboard the Geo Ocean III, a specialist vessel commissioned for the task.

Mr Mearns told ITV News the Sala family were "desperately hoping" for a salvage operation as they believe it was "the only route to get the answers about what had happened and why this plane had crashed."

The wreckage of the plane at the bottom of the English Channel. Credit: AAIB

Following the discovery of the aircraft, Sala's father described his "desperation" at the news.

"I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate," Horacio Sala told local broadcaster Cronica TV.

"I communicated with them every day, but since I do not have WhatsApp it's hard to call them or call me.

Emiliano Sala’s sister Romina (left) and mother Mercedes (centre) with Blue Water Recoveries director David Mearns. Credit: PA

"They told me that the days passed and there was no news of Emiliano or the plane."

On Sunday, Mr Mearns tweeted: "The families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by Police.

"Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David."

The pilot of the missing plane, Dave Ibbotson. Credit: Facebook/Dave Ibbotson

The Piper Malibu N264DB carrying 28-year-old Sala and 59-year-old Mr Ibbotson disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

The plane had requested to descend before losing contact with Jersey air traffic control.

An official search operation was called off on January 24.

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker said the chances of survival after such a long period were "extremely remote".

Two seat cushions, which are likely to have come from the plane, were found earlier this week.

Cardiff had signed the Argentinian striker for a club record £15 million and he was due to start training last month.

A vessel searches for the missing plane Credit: Jonners Le Ray