Search for missing football player resumes in English Channel

Cardiff City's Emiliano Sala feared dead after his plane disappeared over the English Channel on Monday.

    Supporters gather to pay tribute to football player Emiliano Sala in Nantes after his plane went missing [AP/David Vincent]
    Supporters gather to pay tribute to football player Emiliano Sala in Nantes after his plane went missing [AP/David Vincent]

    The search for Cardiff City's new football star, Emiliano Sala, resumed on Wednesday 36 hours after the light aircraft he was flying on disappeared over the English Channel.

    Sala, a 28-year-old striker from Argentina, was flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff, Wales for his club debut when the plane lost radar contact off the Channel island of Guernsey late on Monday.

    Rescue aircraft and boats searched more than 2,590sq km of sea for the single-engine Piper Malibu by midday on Tuesday.

    Police said they had seen a number of floating objects in the water on Tuesday, but had been unable to determine whether they were from the missing aircraft.

    Channel Islands Airsearch chief officer John Fitzgerald told The Associated Press he is "not expecting anyone to be alive".

    "I don't think the coastguard are either. We just don't know how it disappeared," Fitzgerald said.

    The plane had been cruising at about 1,525 metres when the pilot requested to descend to a lower altitude on passing Guernsey. It lost radar contact at 700 metres, Guernsey police said.

    Argentine newspaper Clarin published a message that Sala sent before his plane vanished saying he was "getting scared".

    Tragic

    The 28-year-old was in Nantes for his farewell party before leaving the French team FC Nantes, where he had played since 2015.

    Sala had signed on Saturday for Premier League club Cardiff City FC for a club record fee of about 17 million euros ($19m), after scoring 12 goals for the French club this season.

    Sala's last pictures on Instagram shows him with his former Nantes teammates with the caption "the final goodbye".

    View this post on Instagram

    ‪La ultima ❤️ ciao @FCNantes 👋🏻💛💚‬

    A post shared by Emiliano Sala (@emilianosala9) onJan 21, 2019 at 4:09am PST

    Sala's father told Argentinian media he did not know what had happened until a friend told him.

    "I didn't know anything because I'm away from home, I'm a truck driver. A friend who saw it on TV told me. I'm in despair. I pray that this ends well," said Horacio Sala.

    Mehmet Dalman, chairman of the Welsh football squad, said the club was "very concerned".

    The news of the football player disappearance spread on social media where some fans are tweeting #PrayForsSala, while still hoping that he is alive. 

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies