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David Ibbotson: Search for Emiliano Sala pilot's body to start next week

Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson Image copyright Getty Images/David Ibbotson
Image caption Emiliano Sala (left) was on board a plane being flown by pilot David Ibbotson

A new search for the body of a missing pilot could start next week, his family have said.

David Ibbotson, of Crowle, North Lincolnshire, was flying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala to the UK when their aircraft crashed near Guernsey on 21 January.

The footballer's body was recovered from the plane wreck on the seabed, but Mr Ibbotson's body has not been found.

An appeal by his family to fund the search has raised more than £240,000.

On the fundraising site, the Ibbotson family thanked donors and said a new search involving deep sea divers would "start hopefully beginning of next week".

"We are just waiting on confirmation of dates to update you all," the post said.

"Also we are organising the helicopter searches of the coastal areas [which] will be starting a lot sooner than the deep dive.

"You have all been so amazing and thank you for all your kind messages and donations."

Image copyright AAIB
Image caption The wreckage of the Piper Malibu found in 63m (205ft) of water north-west of Guernsey

The Piper Malibu N264DB was en route from Nantes in France to Cardiff, two days after the Argentine striker's £15m transfer to Cardiff was announced.

An official search was called off on 24 January, but Sala's body was found after an appeal launched by his agent raised £324,000 (371,000 euros) for a private search.

David Mearns, who discovered the missing aircraft, has tweeted that he is assisting the Ibbotson family.

He described the new search as "technically very different" to the discovery of the missing plane.

"It is dependent on good weather, neap tides and flight permits," Mr Mearns said.

The Ibbotson family launched their own appeal with a target of £300,000, writing. "We can not bear the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest."

The fund was boosted with contributions from French footballer Kylian Mbappe, who donated £27,000, and former England captain Gary Lineker who gave £1,000.

Image copyright Marine Traffic
Image caption The search vessel found the wreckage near Guernsey

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