Search for missing footballer’s plane, Emiliano Sala postponed

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The search for a missing plane carrying a pilot and a Premier League footballer has been called off for the night. Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were in the plane that vanished from radar on Monday.

Guernsey Police said an “intensive” nine-hour search found no trace of the missing aircraft. A decision on whether to resume will be taken on Thursday. A rescuer said there was “no hope” of finding the 28-year-old Argentine or pilot from Crowle, Lincolnshire, alive.

Channel Islands Air Search chief officer John Fitzgerald said “even the most fit person” would only survive for a few hours in the water.

Guernsey Police said the search, involving “multiple aircraft and one lifeboat”, was halted as the daylight had faded.

As part of rescue efforts, police have been looking at satellite images and mobile phone data.

Sala reportedly sent a WhatsApp voice message before the flight. Sounding conversational and jokey, he said he was “so scared”.

Media in Argentina reported he said: “I’m on a plane that looks like it’s going to fall apart.”

Sala was heading to the Welsh capital after signing for the Bluebirds from French club Nantes in a £15m deal.

The single-engine plane left Nantes, north-west France, at 19:15 on Monday and had been flying at 5,000ft (1,500m) over the Channel Islands when it contacted Jersey air traffic control requesting descent.

It lost contact while at 2,300ft (700m) and disappeared off radar near the Casquets lighthouse, infamous among mariners as the site of many shipwrecks, eight miles (13km) north-west of Alderney.

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