Timeline of events since Emiliano Sala’s plane went missing

A body has been recovered from the wreckage of the plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson.

Here is a timeline of events since the plane went off the radar:

January 21, 2019:

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu leaves Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and is flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

An air and sea search is launched at 8.50pm after the plane disappears from radar in the English Channel.

January 22:

The French civil aviation authority confirms Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City, was on board the light aircraft. Piloting the plane was David Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe.

January 24:

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker says the chances Sala and Mr Ibbotson have survived is “extremely remote”.

After more than 24 hours of continuous searching, with 80 hours combined flying time across three planes and five helicopters, as well as the help of two lifeboats, passing ships and fishing boats, the search is officially called off.

But the footballer’s sister, Romina Sala, begs rescue workers to keep looking for the plane, telling reporters in Cardiff that she feels her brother and his pilot are still alive.

Emiliano Sala tributes
Emiliano Sala tributes

January 25:

Further pleas for the search to resume come from Argentinian football stars Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Sergio Aguero, and the country’s president Mauricio Macri.

Donations to fund a private search quickly run into the tens of thousands of pounds.

January 26:

It emerges that football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala to Cardiff but he says he had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot. He also backs calls for the search to continue.

January 27:

Relatives and friends of Sala arrive in Guernsey, having enlisted the help of shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns.

The US-born marine scientist, author and explorer, who is based in the UK, says the family still have “some hope”.

January 28:

Sala’s family, including his mother Mercedes and sister Romina, take a chartered flight in a plane operated by Guernsey airline Aurigny over the area where the plane disappeared.

January 30:

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says two seat cushions found washed up earlier in the week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula are likely to have come from the plane carrying Sala and his pilot.

Seat cushion
Seat cushion

February 3:

Wreckage of the plane is located in a fresh, privately funded search which was made possible after a fundraising campaign saw more than £260,000 donated.

Feburary 4:

A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane. The AAIB says the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located.

February 6:

Emiliano Sala plane
Emiliano Sala plane

A body seen in the wreckage of the plane is recovered. The AAIB says the body will be taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as poor weather conditions stopped efforts to recover it.

An AAIB spokesman says attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and, due to continued poor weather forecast, “the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close”.