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'Sala & Pilot Are Dead'

After the missing plane carrying new Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was found, the shattering news that both the player and the pilot are dead has now been confirmed by a search expert involved in the rescue mission.

Read: Sala's Father: I Don't Think We'll Find Our Son Alive

In what will be remembered as the biggest tragedy of the recent transfer window, many hoped that the Argentine footballer, who joined Cardiff from Nantes in January, would miraculously still be found alive.

However, David Mearns, director of Bluewater Recoveries – the company in charge of the renewed efforts to locate the plane – has stated that both Sala and pilot David Ibbotson's families "know" that the pair have passed away.

"What these families know at the moment is that both (Sala and Ibbotson) are dead and what they want is to recover their bodies," Mearns told Argentine publication Clarin.

"The most important thing is the bodies. Recovering the bodies is the most important thing for both families. The plane is a different matter, that's related only to determining the cause of the accident."

Mearns, whose company found the missing plane on sea ground in the English Channel on Sunday, also insisted that, so far, only one body has been found and that the recovery is now in the hands of the Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB).

"I'm not involved anymore. Once we found it, everything was in the hands of the Air Accidents Investigations Branch. They will investigate what caused the crash," he added.

"What I know is that they only have one body, that's everything I know. They (AAIB) tried to recover the body during the night and I know they had some trouble.

"If they are doing it now, they're doing it with a robotic vehicle, operated remotely by a pilot and connected to the ship with a cable. It has cameras and microphones and has robotic arms.

"The issue is where the body is; that is to say if it is free or if it's stuck in the seats. They can recover the body in different ways: they could possibly use a hook or a rope. You could also potentially use a basket. There are many ways of doing it. As far as I know, there are no divers.

"The family will be very grateful for their efforts. Now, we're praying for them to succeed.”

Mearns got involved in the search for Sala's missing plane after a widespread air search failed to find a trace of the aircraft following its disappearance on 21 January. The forward's family started a crowdfunding appeal to continue the search, and high-profile figures such as Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi, among many others, contributed to the initiative.

We, at Soccer Laduma, send our condolences to the families and friends of Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson.

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