Argentina asks Britain, France to resume Sala plane search

Photo: Reuters

Argentina is asking Britain and France to resume the search for a plane carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala that disappeared from radar over the English Channel earlier this week.

A statement from the office of President Mauricio Macri said on Friday that Argentina's foreign minister would make a formal request to the two European nations.

Romina Sala, sister of Cardiff City's missing Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala.

Authorities said on Thursday they were no longer searching for the plane after a three-day air-and-sea operation near the Channel Islands failed to locate the aircraft, Argentine striker Sala or pilot David Ibbotson.

The plane was flying from the French city Nantes to the Welsh capital Cardiff on Monday.

Photos: AFP

The 28-year-old Sala was due to start playing for English Premier League club Cardiff after being transferred from Nantes this month.

Argentine soccer stars Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona have also demanded the authorities resume the search.

Channel police call off search for missing footballer Sala

Police on Thursday ended their search for Premier League player Emiliano Sala, saying the chances of finding the Argentine alive three days after his plane went missing over the Channel were "extremely remote".

"We reviewed all the information available to us, as well as knowing what emergency equipment was on board, and have taken the difficult decision to end the search," police on the British island of Guernsey said in a statement.

Guernsey police resumes search for missing footballer Emiliano Sala

Guernsey police on Thursday resumed the search for the plane carrying Premier League soccer player Emiliano Sala which disappeared over the English Channel.

Cardiff City's new signing Sala and the aircraft's pilot, David Ibbotson, have been missing since Monday night and rescuers have said chances of finding either of them alive were almost vanishingly slim.

A recording had since emerged of a fearful voice message Sala apparently sent in which he expressed concerns about the single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft he was flying in.

The 28-year-old Argentina-born forward was en route from Nantes in western France to make his debut for Welsh team Cardiff City.

On Thursday, the authorities said they were resuming their search efforts.

Photos: Reuters

"We are commencing a coastal search using the Channel Islands Air Search plane of Burhou, the Casquets, Alderney, the north coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula, north coast of Jersey and then back over Sark," Guernsey police tweeted.

Hopes fade for Cardiff striker Sala as final message emerges

Hopes faded on Wednesday of finding Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala alive, as it emerged the Argentine had sent relatives a desperate message shortly before the light aircraft he was flying in disappeared over the Channel.

Floating objects have been found in the water, and police on the British island of Guernsey, which sits off the north coast of France, have warned the chances of the passengers surviving were "slim".

As rescuers in three planes and a helicopter scoured the sea, Argentine media reported that Sala sent a final message before the plane disappeared from radar around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Guernsey on Monday night.

"I'm on a plane that looks like it's going to fall apart, and I'm leaving for Cardiff," the 28-year-old said in a rambling WhatsApp audio message.

"If in an hour and a half you have no news from me, I don't know if they will send people to look for me, because they will not find me, you know... I'm so scared," he added.

The player's mother, Mercedes, told Argentine television channel C5N that the plane belonged to Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman, but he disputed the claim.

"I can say to you categorically that the plane had nothing to do with Cardiff City," he said.

Dalman said the club had offered to pay for his flight but Sala had "made his own arrangements".

"I can't tell you who arranged the flight because I don't know."

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is investigating, said the single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu plane was registered in the United States.

The pilot, the only other person in the plane, was named in British media as 60-year-old Dave Ibbotson, a married father of three from Scunthorpe in northern England.

Search resumes for Cardiff striker Sala as final message emerges

The search resumed Wednesday for a missing plane carrying Cardiff City's record new signing Emiliano Sala, as it emerged the Argentine striker had sent relatives a desperate message shortly before the light aircraft disappeared over the Channel.

Floating objects have been found in the water, and police on the British island of Guernsey, which sits off the north coast of France, have warned the chances of the passengers surviving were "slim".

As the air search resumed, Argentine media reported that Sala sent a final message before the plane disappeared from radar around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Guernsey on Monday night.

"I'm on a plane that looks like it's going to fall apart, and I'm leaving for Cardiff," the 28-year-old said in a WhatsApp audio message.

"If in an hour and a half you have no news from me, I don't know if they will send people to look for me, because they will not find me, you know... I'm so scared," he added.

Sala, who signed with the Premier League club on Saturday from French Ligue 1 club Nantes for a reported fee of 17 million euros ($19.3 million), was flying to Cardiff on a single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft.

A 15-hour search Tuesday covering 1,155 square miles (3,000 square-kilometre) in the Channel spotted "a number of floating objects in the water", Guernsey police said.

On Wednesday, they said two planes had resumed searching a targeted area, including around the nearby island of Alderney, based on the theory that the plane might have landed on water and the occupants got into a life raft that was on board.     

Cardiff striker Sala missing after suspected plane crash

Premier League club Cardiff City's record new signing, Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, was missing on Tuesday after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel.

Photos: AFP

Sala, signed on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported fee of 17 million euros ($19.3 million), was flying to Cardiff aboard a small plane that disappeared from radars around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Guernsey on Monday night.

French civil aviation authorities confirmed that 28-year-old Sala "was on board the plane".

A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island just off the coast of France, said the pilot had requested to lower his altitude shortly before air traffic control in neighbouring Jersey lost contact with the plane.

After a search was called off on Monday because of high winds, two helicopters, two planes and a lifeboat joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the single-propeller plane.

"So far over 1,000 square miles have been searched by a total of five aircraft and two lifeboats," Guernsey police said at 1145 GMT.

"There has been no trace of the aircraft. The search is continuing."

It is thought Sala was one of two passengers on board, but French civil aviation authorities were unable to confirm that.

Sala, who had been at Nantes since 2015 and had scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.

Neither club has commented publicly on the disappearance, but Nantes have postponed their French Cup match against third-tier side Entente SSG on Wednesday as a mark of respect.

When he put pen to paper at Cardiff on Saturday, Sala, who also has Italian nationality, said in a statement: "I'm very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can't wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.

"For me it feels special (to be the club's record signing). I have come here wanting to work and to help my team-mates and the club."

Sala's last post on Instagram showed him surrounded by players from Nantes. "La ultima ciao (the last goodbye)," he wrote.

Cardiff, who currently sit third from bottom of the English Premier League with 19 points, said they were "very concerned".

"We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further. We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala," the club said in a statement.

The accident, if confirmed, comes only three months after the Thai billionaire owner of Leicester City football club died in a helicopter crash that shocked the club and supporters around the world.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others died on October 28 shortly after taking off from the pitch of the club's stadium in central England.

Disconnected cockpit pedals, which are used to control the rotor on the helicopter's tail, were found to be the cause of the accident by investigators.

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