Emiliano Sala disappearance: Part of seat cushions from missing plane found on beach in France

The Bluebirds claim they are looking into all the details of the deal to sign the striker, which is why they have yet to pay the Ligue 1 side

Seat cushions from a missing plane believed to be carrying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala were found washed up on a beach in France on Monday.

Investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) discovered the debris from the seats on a Normandy beach at the start of the week.

The 28-year-old was flying back to Wales after completing a £15m ($20m) move from Nantes on January 21, when the plane disappeared over the English Channel.

The aircraft's pilot David Ibbotson requested permission to descend before losing contact with air traffic control completely, having taken off initially from Nantes airport.

Initial search and rescue efforts had spanned three days without finding any trace of the plane, before the authorities opted to call a halt to their scanning of the area.

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch released a statement on Wednesday regarding the latest information: "Since we opened our safety investigation on Tuesday 23 January, we have been gathering evidence such as flight, aircraft and personnel records, and have been analysing radar data and air traffic tapes. We have been working closely with other international authorities and have kept the families of those involved updated on our progress.

"On the morning of Monday 28 January, we were advised by the Bureau d’Enquêtes & d’Analyses (BEA), the French safety investigation authority, that part of a seat cushion had been found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula. A second cushion was found in the same area later that day.

"From a preliminary examination, we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft. From the moment we were notified of the missing aircraft, we have been looking at the feasibility of conducting an underwater seabed search for aircraft wreckage. Based on a detailed assessment of the flight path and last known radar position, we have now identified a priority search area of approximately four square nautical miles.

"Through the Ministry of Defence’s Salvage and Marine Operations (SALMO) Project Team, we have commissioned a specialist survey vessel to carry out an underwater survey of the seabed to try to locate and identify possible aircraft wreckage."

The investigators went on to say that the underwater search could take up to three days, with an examination of the wreckage scheduled to take place thereafter.

Members of Sala's immediate family used funds raised from donations to launch their own separate search, which is still ongoing, and investigators are working closely with his relatives to 'ensure a safe operation'. 

"Due to the weather and sea conditions, we currently expect our underwater seabed search to start at the end of this weekend and to take up to three days. Side-scan sonar equipment will be used to try to locate the wreckage on the seabed. If the wreckage is found, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will be used to visually examine the wreckage.

"We are aware that a privately operated search is also being conducted in the area, and we are liaising closely with those involved to maximise the chance of locating any wreckage and ensure a safe search operation.

"Our remit is to undertake safety investigations to establish the cause of accidents. We do not apportion blame or liability."