Authorities said that Emiliano Sala was on board the Piper PA 46 Malibu light aircraft that went missing in the English Channel on Monday.
The French civil aviation authority confirmed that Sala was aboard the “single turbine engine aircraft”, which disappeared from radar off the coast of the island of Guernsey. Authorities have begun a third day of searching for the missing aircraft carrying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala. Guernsey Police confirmed early on Thursday that efforts have been resumed using a Channel Islands Air Search plane.
An immediate search and rescue operation was launched in the area but was halted in the early hours of Tuesday due to worsening weather conditions. Local and French authorities resumed their efforts at 0800.
In a statement published on Facebook, Guernsey Police said: “Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 2023 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.”
“The PA 46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft was on route from Nantes in France, to Cardiff in Wales, with two people on board when it was lost off radar as Jersey ATC was attempting to make contact.
A search model was created on SARIS, based on the likely ditching position, and all search and rescue assets were tasked to the area.”
“The search was terminated at 0200, with all search and rescue assets being stood down, due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility. At this time no trace of the missing aircraft had been found.”
“The aircraft departed Nantes at 1915 for Cardiff. The aircraft was flying at 5000 feet. The aircraft on passing Guernsey requested descent. Jersey ATC lost contact whilst it was flying at 2300 feet.
Air Search 1 and a French rescue helicopter based in Cherbourg, resumed the search of the area at 0800.”
Cardiff City were expecting Sala to report for his first day at the club on Tuesday after signing from Ligue 1 side Nantes on Saturday.
Sala flew to Cardiff last week on the same aircraft, and only returned to France to say goodbye to his Nantes teammates on Monday.
Cardiff paid around £15m for the 28-year-old to break their club-record transfer, surpassing the previous record of £11m paid to Sevilla for Gary Medel in 2013.
Cardiff City chief executive Ken Choo issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon to express the club’s shock at the news, and he said that he had been left “very distressed” by Sala’s disappearance after last seeing him on Friday.
“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing,” Choo said in a statement. “We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team. Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.”
“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.
“All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.
We continue to pray for positive news.”
Nantes were due to travel to Entente Sannois for their Coupe de France clash on Wednesday evening, but Sannois, who play in the third tier of French football, have agreed to postpone the match.
In a statement, Nantes president Waldemar Kita said: “I’m thinking of his friends, his family, I’m still in hope, he’s a fighter, it’s not over.
Maybe he’s somewhere, waiting for some news that we hope will be positive. We are very touched by all the support received since this morning.”
Mark McKay, an agent involved in brokering Sala’s move to Cardiff, confirmed via a statement that he arranged the 28-year-old’s flight but denied reports that the missing aircraft was owned by him or his family.
He said : “Along with everyone in the world of football, I want to express my sadness and that of my family with regards to the tragic events that have unfolded since Monday evening.
The families of both Emiliano and that of the pilot are utmost in our thoughts and prayers. I knew Emiliano well, he was a wonderful person and I count myself fortunate to have known him.”
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