Emiliano Sala: Cardiff striker feared dead as authorities postpone searches for missing aircraft

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 22 January 2019 18:12 GMT
Emiliano Sala search: Officials say they are ‘not expecting anyone to be alive’ with no trace of missing plane

Cardiff City’s club-record signing Emiliano Sala is feared dead after the plane he was travelling in to Wales went missing over the English Channel on Monday night, with searches to locate the striker and the aircraft’s pilot called off on Tuesday evening.

Guernsey Police confirmed that French and British maritime authorities had called off their rescue attempts at sunset on Tuesday after searching more than 11,500sq miles of water around the Channel Islands of Alderney and Guernsey.

The Piper PA-46 Malibu single-propeller aircraft disappeared off radar at around 8:20pm on Monday night, with Jersey Air Traffic Control sending an alert to Guernsey Coastguard who immediately dispatched a lifeboat. Since then, police said there has been no sign of either Argentine footballer Sala or the aircraft’s pilot, who the French civil aviation authority confirmed were the only two people on board.

“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. Two planes and a lifeboat are still searching.”

Tuesday due to the dangerously cold temperatures that they would have experienced upon a crash-landing in the water, and chief executive of the Channel Islands Air Search, John Fitzgerald suggested that the search was no longer a rescue mission.

“We are not expecting anyone to be alive,” said Fitzgerald. “I don’t think the coastguard are either. We just don’t know how it disappeared.”

Fitzgerald added that the plane “just completely vanished. There was no radio conversation.”

Cardiff cancelled their planned training session on Tuesday morning and chief executive Ken Choo visited the Cardiff City Stadium as well as the club’s training ground to support staff who were experiencing an “emotional crisis”, having signed Sala in a club-record £15m deal just last Saturday from French Ligue 1 side Nantes.

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