The family may have accepted their fate, but they, at least, want to see the corpse of their beloved.

Finding wreckage carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson may have offered some form of relief.

The Piper Malibu N264DB was lost on 21 January on its way from Nantes, France, to Cardiff. Its wreckage was discovered in the English Channel.

Accident investigators are expected to send a submersible to inspect the wreckage later on Monday.

David Mearns, who led a privately-funded search for the aircraft, said it was located off Guernsey on Sunday.

He said: "All I will say is that there is a substantial amount of wreckage on the seabed."

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme on Monday, Mr Mearns said: "We located the wreckage of the plane on the seabed at a depth of about 63m within the first couple of hours [of searching]."

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He said the plane was identified by sonar, before a submersible with cameras was sent underwater and was able to confirm it was the plane.

"They saw the registration number and the biggest surprise is that most of the plane is there," he added.

Mr Mearns's private search has now been stood down and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is at the site working to recover the plane.

He said further investigations by the AAIB would be conducted over the next two days in order to determine how it will attempt a recovery operation.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, marine scientist Mr Mearns said: "The families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by police."

He added: "Our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David."

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