Emiliano Sala: French civil aviation authority confirm Cardiff City striker was on board missing plane

The 28-year-old was travelling from former club Nantes to Cardiff when his plane went missing on Monday night near the Channel Island of Alderney

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 22 January 2019 12:08 GMT
Emiliano Sala search: Officials say they are ‘not expecting anyone to be alive’ with no trace of missing plane

The French civil aviation authority has confirmed that new Cardiff City signing Emiliano Sala was on board the flight that went missing in the Channel on Monday night, which French and British maritime authorities continue to search for near the island of Alderney.

The 28-year-old footballer was one of two people on a light aircraft travelling from Nantes – who Sala played for until Saturday – top Cardiff, having agreed a £15m transfer to the Premier League club.

But his flight, due to land in Cardiff at around 9pm on Monday night, did not arrive and authorities have confirmed that he was on board the Piper Malibu light aircraft that disappeared near Alderney, nor far from the Casquets lighthouse.

A statement read: “Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 20:23 from Jersey ATC, that a light aircraft had gone off their radar approximately 15 miles north of Guernsey, initiating a major search and rescue operation involving both St Peter Port and Alderney lifeboats. Air Search 1 and 2 HM Coastguard helicopters are also involved in the search.”

Cardiff also issued a statement to say that they are “very concerned” about their new signing, and that they will not comment further until authorities have news to confirm what happened with the flight.

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

The search and rescue attempts had to be postponed in the early hours of Tuesday morning amid worsening weather conditions, before they resumed at 8am with joint efforts from French and English maritime authorities.

Chief executive of the Channel Islands Air Search, John Fitzgerald said: "We were called out by Guernsey Coastguard at 8.30pm, just as the aircraft had dropped off the radar and we were over Alderney by about 9pm.

"We stayed there until midnight before we flew back to Guernsey to change over the crew and refuel.

Sala was on board a plane that went missing in the Channel on Monday night
Sala was on board a plane that went missing in the Channel on Monday night (Getty)

"There was about 15 to 20 miles visibility so we could see quite a lot during the first search but the lifeboats found it quite difficult. That area is always quite rough but from 1,000 feet, we can see straight down.

"It was not that bad but at about 2 or 3am wintry showers set in and the search was postponed. We went out again at 8am."

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