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PICTURE: Wreckage from lost Piper Malibu found on seabed

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is working to recover the wreckage of the Piper Malibu PA46-310P that was discovered on 3 February on the seabed, near Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

The aircraft, (registration N264DB) was lost on 21 January en route from Nantes, France to Cardiff, Wales, with Premiership footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board.

The wreckage was identified by sonar before a submersible with cameras dived at the site and was able to confirm it was the missing piston-single.

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AAIB

The search began on the morning of 3 February, conducted by the AAIB and Blue Water Recoveries using two specialist vessels, Geo Ocean III and FPV Morven.

In a statement issued on 4 February, the AAIB says: "Early in the search, the Morven identified an object of interest on the seabed using its side-scan sonar equipment. It cleared the immediate area for the Geo Ocean III to use its underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to survey the area of the seabed in which the object was located. 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.

In video footage from the ROV, however, one occupant is visible amid the wreckage, says the AAIB.

It is now "considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police".

An interim report will be published by the AAIB within a month.

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