Search for plane carrying footballer Sala, pilot called off

Aircraft carrying Argentinian player Emiliano Sala went missing earlier this week near the Channel Islands.

    Sala had signed last week for Premier League club Cardiff City FC for a club record fee of about $19m [Rebecca Naden/Reuters]
    Sala had signed last week for Premier League club Cardiff City FC for a club record fee of about $19m [Rebecca Naden/Reuters]

    French and British authorities have called off the search for the small plane carrying Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, which disappeared on Monday near the British Channel Islands.

    In a statement released on Thursday, Guernsey Harbour Master David Barker said: "The chances of survival at this point are extremely remote."

    "Next of kin have been informed of this development, and my thoughts go out to the family of the pilot and passenger at this most difficult of times," the statement read.

    "Although we are no longer actively searching, the incident remains open and we will be broadcasting to all vessels and aircraft in the area to keep a look out for any trace of the aircraft," Barker added.

    "This will continue indefinitely."

    Sala, a 28-year-old striker from Argentina who signed for English Premier League club Cardiff City last week, was flying from the French city of Nantes - where he used to play - to Cardiff, Wales for his club debut when the plane lost radar contact off the Channel island of Guernsey.

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    Rescue aircraft and boats searched more than 4,400 square kilometres of sea for the single-engine Piper Malibu since its disappearance but failed to find any trace of it.

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

    Sala had signed for the Premier League club 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 hadn't known 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.

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

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News