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LIKE THE 1972 URUGUAYAN RUGBY TEAM THAT SURVIVED AIR CRASH FOR 72 DAYS, SALA GIRLFRIEND BELIEVES HE’S ALIVE

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Almost thinking in the manner some members of a Uruguayan rugby team survived for 72 days under subzero temperature on the Andes Mountain in 1972, the families of the missing Emiliano Sala are thinking in that direction.

On October 13, 1972, a chartered Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into one of the remote and almost inaccessible areas of the Andes Mountains. After 10 days of searching, by 11 aircrafts from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, the wreckage could not be located leading to the calling off of both rescue and recovery searches.

After 72 days, two of the survivors managed to assail the peak and descended into the other side before officials were alerted on the actual location of the crash. By then, the surviors had to live by eating the bodies of the dead.

The wreckage of the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 which crashed on October 13, 1972. Sixteen of the 45 passengers on board survived for 72 days after the crash.

In similar circumstances, family members of the missing player believed he could had survived through a raft and sailed into an island. Specifically, the girlfriend of missing footballer, Berenice Schkair is quoted by Daily Star of UK , as believing that the Emiliano Sala is still alive and on an island after the plane carrying him disappeared without a trace.

Emiliano Sala and girlfriend, Berenice Schkair

Berenice Schkair, 26, is hopeful Sala, the Argentine striker who signed for Cardiff City, will be found alive despite rescue crews failing to find him after a four-day search. 

The Piper PA-46 Malibu carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared near the Channel Islands on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

Rescue workers said their chances of survival were “extremely remote” as they called off the exstentive search involving lifeboats, helicopters and planes last Thursday. 

His girlfriend Berenice Schkair, 26, is convinced he survived, blaming his disappearance on a “series of irresponsibilities” in an interview with Argentine media outlet Infobae.

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She said: “I don’t want to speak about him in the past. I have hope he is going to turn up, that’s he’s alive. 

“Where? On an island. I feel, as does his family, that he cannot have disappeared.” 

The Argentine model previously told Daily Star Online she last spoke to Sala on January 20, just hours before his plane took off from Nantes, France, at 7.15pm on January 21. 

Schkair, who has described the ordeal as a “nightmare”, told Infobae she and Sala “were getting to know each other” and had not been dating long. 

During the search for Sala, Schkair raised eyebrows by suggesting “the football mafia” was involved in his disappearance in a social media post. 

Asked about her social media post, which has now been deleted, Schkair said: “It was an impulse. I sensed there was something strange, dark.

“But I don’t have information about anything. 

“The only thing I felt was if a plane disappears off the face of the Earth, two people disappear and nobody wants to search for them and everything stays covered then it is something strange.”

She believes his disappearance was an accident but condemned “a series of irresponsibilities which brought about this horror”. 

She said Premier League strugglers Cardiff City, who signed Sala for a club record £15 million to bolster their attack, were partly to blame for not providing him with a translator. 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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