Heartbreak behind viral dog photo
EMILIANO Sala's loyal dog is still waiting patiently for the footballer to come home weeks after his plane crashed in the English Channel.
The Cardiff City striker's sister Romina shared a heartbreaking image on Facebook of rescue dog Nala staring out into the distance, The Sun reports.
"Nala is waiting for you, too …" she captioned the powerful picture.
Former Nantes star Sala's dog Nala was reportedly one of the reasons he returned to France before joining his new club. He was understood to have taken her to kennels and started the process of moving her over to Wales so she could live with him.
Sala lived alone in Nantes and got Nala soon after moving there in 2015 to keep him company.
The photo has since gone viral, appearing on news sites around the world.
Rescuers are now attempting to recover a body from the wreck of the plane believed to have been carrying the football star and pilot David Ibbotson.
The Piper Malibu N264DB carrying Sala, 28, and Mr Ibbotson, 59, was discovered off the coast of Alderney in the English Channel on Monday (AEDT) - 13 days after it disappeared.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) yesterday confirmed a body is visible in the wreck, which is about 67m deep.
It hasn't said if the body located by an underwater camera was the footballer or pilot. The AAIB said strong tidal conditions were hampering the operation to remove the body.
It said: "We are attempting to recover the body. If we are successful, we will consider the feasibility of recovering the aircraft wreckage.
"Strong tidal conditions mean we can only use the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for limited periods each day and this will mean that progress is slow."
A time frame has yet to be set to lift the wreck of the plane.
James Hotson, a spokesman for the AAIB, said if lifted, the wreckage would most likely be taken to an English port before being transferred to the AAIB's laboratory in Farnborough, east Hampshire.
On Monday, marine scientist David Mearns, who co-ordinated the discovery of the plane, said it was "imperative" the aircraft was lifted to provide answers to the victims' families.
WRECKAGE OF PLANE FOUND ON SUNDAY
The single-engine aircraft went missing at around 8.30pm on January 21 en route from Nantes to Cardiff, where Sala was due to join his new club after an $AUD27 million transfer.
An official search was called off on January 24 but more than $535,000 was raised by football stars including Lionel Messi to fund a private search.
Last week the AAIB said two seat cushions believed to be from the plane were found off the coast of Normandy.
The wreckage of the aircraft was found by shipwreck hunter Mr Mearns, who used sonar technology to scan the seabed off Alderney in the Channel Islands.
Within a few hours boat FBV Morven picked up a signal and a remote-controlled submarine fitted with a camera was sent down to formally identify the wreckage.
Experts believe the plane entered the English Channel in one piece, which may explain why it has been found so quickly.
Aviation experts have claimed ice on the wings could have caused Sala's plane to crash into the Channel.
The footie ace sent WhatsApp messages to his friends as the plane lurched in rough conditions, saying the plane "looks like it's going to fall apart".
He wrote: "Boys, I'm here on top of the plane that looks like it's about to fall apart. And I'm going to Cardiff, crazy, tomorrow we already started. In the afternoon we started to train, boys, in my new team."
Sala later sent another message saying: "If you do not have any more news from in an hour and a half, I don't know if they need to send someone to find me … I am getting scared!"
PILOT TOLD FRIENDS HE WAS 'A BIT RUSTY'
Married dad-of-three Mr Ibbotson, from Scunthorpe, told pals he was feeling "a bit rusty" just days before the doomed aircraft vanished.
The plane had requested to descend then lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.
Football agent Willie McKay, who brokered the deal, said the incident had "been an absolute nightmare for us".
He said that if he had not allowed Sala to return to his old club to say goodbye to his former teammates and put his beloved dog in kennels "he would still be with us".
Last week it was revealed how the agent's chosen pilot David Henderson, 60, subbed the job to Mr Ibbotson after asking: "Do you want to spend a weekend in Nantes?"
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission