A PRIVATE search for Emiliano Sala has been launched after Lionel Messi and a host of football stars helped raise £300,000 for a rescue mission, after the search had initially been called off.

Despite hopes being raised following the discovery of plane wreckage on a Rotterdam beach, officials have confirmed it was NOT from Sala’s aircraft. Here’s what we know so far.

 Emiliano Sala is Cardiff City's record signing and was on board the missing plane

Getty – Contributor

Emiliano Sala is Cardiff City’s record signing and was on board the missing plane

What caused the plane crash?

On January 23, aviation experts exclusively told The Sun how a build up of ice on the wings of the aircraft carrying Emiliano Sala could have been the cause of the crash.

Sala sent WhatsApp messages to his friends as the plane lurched in rough conditions, saying the plane “looks like it’s going to fall apart”.

One aviation expert claimed: “There are reports that the footballer was texting saying the aircraft is shaking and breaking up are classic signs of icing on the wings.

“The pilot is most likely wrestling with a stall at 2,300ft.

“It is likely, though, that the aircraft hit the water in one piece otherwise debris would have quickly been found.”

Two seat cushions were discovered on the coast of Surtainville, northwestern France – over a week after the Cardiff City star’s plane vanished over the Channel.

The AAIB said the cushions are likely to have been from the Piper Malibu plane which vanished last Monday.

It has also been reported that pilot David Ibbotson, 60, admitted he was “a bit rusty” at the controls before the aircraft vanished on Monday, January 21.

He told pals his fears after arriving in France two days before his aircraft went missing – and even joked about the state of his landing.

 Dave Ibbotson, from Scunthorpe, was flying Emiliano Sala to Cardiff when the plane vanished
Dave Ibbotson, from Scunthorpe, was flying Emiliano Sala to Cardiff when the plane vanished

The married dad-of-four from Scunthorpe, Lincs, told a pal: “Was not too bad when I got there, but I’m a bit rusty with the ILS (instrument landing system).”

He then said the landing had been “a little bit on the high side hehe, better than on the low side”.

He spent Sunday in Nantes before meeting Sala at the city’s airport on Monday evening.

Reports suggested they had attempted to take off four times before finally getting airborne.

The plane climbed to 5,000ft but later asked Jersey air traffic control for permission to drop to 2,300ft. It then vanished at 8.30pm near Alderney.

Another theory claims that the plane will never be found because it vanished into a trench that is twice as deep as Big Ben is tall.

 How ice can form on a plane and affect its handling
How ice can form on a plane and affect its handling

Is the search still on?

The search for Emiliano Sala has resumed after Lionel Messi and host of football stars helped raise £293,000 for a private rescue mission.

The athlete’s agency Sport Cover confirmed on Monday morning that two Guernsey based fishing vessels are working in the area where the plane last had radar contact.

Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan, Nantes manager Vahid Halilhodzic, Leicester City winger Demarai Gray and Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso have all donated.

The fund was set up by Sala’s French football agency, while a petition launched in France has gathered more than 80,000 signatures.

Argentine footie legends Messi and Diego Maradona are among those who made public pleas for the search to be restarted.

While the country’s president Mauricio Macri told his foreign minister to issue formal requests to Britain and France for search efforts to be resumed, according to a statement from the premier’s office on Friday.

More than 1,700 sq-ft of land and sea had been scoured by search and rescue teams after the Argentine ace’s small private plane went missing over the Channel on January 21.

He was flying from Nantes, western France, to Cardiff after making a club-record £15million transfer to the Premier League strugglers.

 Romina Sala, sister of Cardiff City's missing Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, whose flight disappeared from radar over the English Channel north of Guernsey, holds a press conference at Cardiff City Stadium

AFP or licensors

Romina Sala, sister of Cardiff City’s missing Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, whose flight disappeared from radar over the English Channel north of Guernsey, holds a press conference at Cardiff City Stadium

What is his family doing?

The family of Emiliano Sala are “struggling” for answers as a private search gets under way for the Cardiff City footballer whose plane disappeared over the English Channel.

Relatives and friends of the Argentinian striker arrived in Guernsey on Sunday, almost a week after the light aircraft went missing.

Privately funded investigators said on Wednesday, January 30, that an underwater search would begin after they found two seat cushions on the French coast that likely belonged to the plane.

Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch said: “From a preliminary examination, we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft.”

Two local fishing vessels had been looking out for any possible sightings over the weekend while they worked in the same area where the plane was last located, Mr Mearns said.

Last week, Sala’s sister Romina made a heartfelt plea for the search to start up again as she broke down in tears outside Cardiff City’s stadium.

She said: “We really are thankful for the support of all the players in the way they have said that we should not stop our efforts.

“We will find a way to restart the search. We will find Emiliano and the pilot.

“He is a fighter and we feel he is still out there.

“We know he is somewhere – we want to bring him back. We are very humbled by the way people are helping.”

It comes as Sala’s ex-partner Berenice Schkair, 27, also begged rescuers not to call off the hunt for the plane.

Sharing an image of the player on Instagram, she wrote: “Please ask all the media not to cancel the search that President Macri does justice to not stop looking for Emiliano Sala”.

Final haunting audio message sent by Emiliano Sala during flight reveals he was ‘scared’ moments before aircraft lost contact


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