Nantes (France): English Premier League (EPL) club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Emiliano Sala, is missing presumed dead after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel, with a search to find the plane being called off, Tuesday.
The Argentine striker, signed Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported fee of 17 million euros (USD 19.3 million), was flying to Cardiff aboard the plane that disappeared from radars Monday night 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the island of Guernsey.
The search continued throughout Tuesday before being suspended for the night, with police on the British island warning that survival chances were ‘slim’ if the aircraft landed on water.
A 15-hour search covering a 1,155 square-mile (3,000 square kilometres) area in the Channel spotted a ‘number of floating objects in the water’, Guernsey police said. “We have found no signs of those on board. If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim,” police officials informed.
French civil aviation authorities had confirmed that 28-year-old Sala ‘was on board the plane’. It is thought there was one other passenger on the aircraft.
One of the rescuers searching for the missing plane earlier admitted they were ‘fearing the worst’, thoughts echoed by Sala’s father Horacio.
“Sadly we are fearing the worst…the sea temperature is so cold at the moment,” John Fitzgerald, Chief Officer of Channel Islands Air Search, told this agency.
A tearful Horacio Sala told the press in Progreso, where the player’s family lives, that as ‘the hours go by and I don’t know anything, it makes me fear the worst’.
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.
“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive Monday night into Cardiff and today (Tuesday) was due to be his first day with the team,” the Premier League club’s executive director Ken Choo said in a statement. “We continue to pray for positive news.”