Two seat cushions found in search for plane carrying missing footballer

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.

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.”

It went on: “Since we opened our safety investigation on Tuesday 23 January, we have been gathering evidence such as flight, aircraft and personnel records, and have been analysing 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.

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”.

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