Emiliano Sala: What we know about the missing Cardiff City football after his plane disappeared over the Channel

Cardiff City’s club-record signing Emiliano Sala is feared dead after the plane he was travelling in to Wales went missing over the English Channel on Monday night, with searches to locate the striker and the aircraft’s pilot on Tuesday proving unsuccessful.

Guernsey Police issued a number of statements throughout the day as both French and British maritime authorities searches more than 11,500sq miles of water around the Channel Islands of Alderney and Guernsey.

But after more than 15 hours of searching since the plane initially disappeared off radar around 8:20pm on Monday night, police confirmed there had been no sign of either Argentine footballer Sala or the aircraft’s pilot, who the French civil aviation authority confirmed were the only two people on board.

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“During the course of the 15-hour search, which used multiple air and sea assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, a number of floating objects have been seen in the water. We have been unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft.

“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. Two planes and a lifeboat are still searching.”


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Here’s what we know at this stage of the search.

  • A Piper PA-46 Malibu light aircraft carrying new Cardiff City signing Emiliano Sala and one pilot departed Nantes at 7:15pm destined for the Welsh capital and was flying at around 5,000ft.
  • The aircraft requested to descend near Guernsey and dipped to 2,300ft where it disappeared from radar and air traffic control just off the coast of Alderney.
  • Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 8:23pm from Jersey Air Traffic Control to say the aircraft has gone off their radar approximately 15 miles north of Guernsey.
  • Rescue teams were in the water off Alderney by 9pm, but rescue attempts had to be abandoned between 2am and 3am Tuesday morning as weather conditions deteriorated.
  • The search for the missing plane resumed at 8am on Tuesday morning with five aircrafts and two lifeboats from British and French maritime authorities looking for signs of a crash in an operation co-ordinated by the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre.
  • Despite 15 hours of searching more than 11,500sq miles of water surrounding Alderley, a number of “floating objects” were retrieved, but none of these could be confirmed to be from the aircraft.
  • Rescue teams found “no signs of those on board”, and said that chances of survival if they landed in the water at this stage are “unfortunately slim”.
  • Chief executive of the Channel Islands Air Search, John Fitzgerald said rescue teams “are not expecting anyone to be alive” and that “we just don’t know how it disappeared”.
  • Cardiff City were expecting Sala to report for his first day at the club on Tuesday after signing from Ligue 1 side Nantes on Saturday.
  • Sala flew to Cardiff last week on the same aircraft, and only returned to France to say goodbye to his Nantes teammates on Monday.
  • Cardiff paid around £15m for the 28-year-old to break their club-record transfer, surpassing the previous record of £11m paid to Sevilla for Gary Medel in 2013.
  • The search will resume at sunrise on Tuesday morning.

Cardiff City chief executive Ken Choo issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon to express the club’s shock at the news, and he said that he had been left “very distressed” by Sala’s disappearance after last seeing him on Friday.

“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing,” Choo said in a statement. “We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

“Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

“All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news, rumours and done deals throughout the January window​

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