Police to resume search for plane carrying Cardiff striker tomorrow

Emiliano Sala was flying from Nantes to Wales when aircraft disappeared

French maritime authorities said on Tuesday (January 22) that a light aircraft lost radar contact over the English Channel late on Monday (January 21), but could not confirm whether Cardiff City soccer player Emiliano Sala was on board.

 

Emiliano Sala, the Argentinian footballer who signed for Cardiff City last Saturday, was on a private plane that disappeared near the Channel Islands on Monday evening, the French civil aviation authority has said.

A small plane – a Piper Malibu – travelling from Nantes to Cardiff went missing near the Casquets lighthouse, with Sala one of two people on board.

A French civil aviation authority spokeswoman said: “Mr Sala was aboard this aircraft. The search for it is continuing and that is all I can say.”

A search and rescue operation took place in the area on Monday evening amid poor conditions. Guernsey Police said the search had been suspended at 5pm on Tuesday with the intention of resuming on Wednesday.

In a statement posted to their Twitter account, Guernsey Police said: “During the course of the 15-hour search, which used multiple air and sea assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, a number of floating objects have been seen in the water. We have been unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft.

“We have found no signs of those on board. If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim.

Cardiff’s chairman, Mehmet Dalman, said: “We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night. We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further. We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala.”

Sala (28) completed his move from Nantes to Cardiff on Saturday but returned to France to say goodbye to his team-mates. He was set to train with Cardiff for the first time on Tuesday morning and expected to make his debut against Arsenal next week. The 28-year-old, who has scored 12 goals in Ligue 1 this season, joined Cardiff for a club-record fee, believed to be €17 million.

Guernsey Coast Guard received an alert at 8.23pm on Monday that a light aircraft had gone missing and searches were carried out until 2am, at which point conditions forced a halt. The search resumed at 8am.

Police said the aircraft had requested descent on passing Guernsey but that Jersey air traffic control lost contact with it when the plane was at 2,300ft.

HM Coastguard has said that the disappearance was not in its search and rescue area but that it had sent two helicopters to assist Guernsey Coastguard.

Sala played youth football in Argentina, latterly at Club Proyecto Crecer, but has spent his whole senior career in France. He joined Bordeaux in 2012 and went on loan to three clubs before signing for Nantes in 2015. – Guardian/PA

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