Light aircraft carrying footballer Emiliano Sala disappears over English Channel

Emiliano Sala in action at La Beaujoire Stadium, Nantes, France.

The search continued on Tuesday for a light aircraft carrying Cardiff City soccer player Emiliano Sala which went missing off Guernsey.

Rescue helicopters and lifeboats scoured the seas off the Channel Islands and French police sources confirmed the 28-year-old Argentine forward was on board the single-engine Piper Malibu which disappeared from radar screens late on Monday evening.

Sala joined Premier League strugglers Cardiff City from FC Nantes last week for a club record fee of about 17 million euros (an equivalent of $19 million). He had played in France since 2012.

Local coastguards were alerted by air traffic control at 20:23 GMT that an aircraft with two people on board had gone missing.

Lifeboats and helicopters were sent out but the search was suspended four hours later as the wind strengthened and visibility deteriorated.

Search teams resumed work on Tuesday morning and had covered more than 1,000 square miles by midday.

“At this time no trace of the missing aircraft had been found,” Guernsey police said.

Sala’s father told Argentine TV channel C5N: “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.”

Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman said the club was “very concerned” by news of the plane’s disappearance.

Cardiff tweeted a video clip of Sala last week.

“It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new team mates and get down to work,” he said.

Sala scored 12 goals for Nantes this season. Officials of the Ligue 1 club did not immediately comment.

The plane had been cruising at 5,000 feet when the pilot requested to descend to a lower altitude on passing Guernsey. It lost radar contact at 2,300 feet, Guernsey police said.

France’s soccer federation said it had postponed Nantes’s French Cup last-32 game against Entente Sannois-Saint Gratien which had been scheduled for Wednesday.

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