Guernsey Police have ended the search for the plane carrying missing Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala and the aircraft’s pilot, saying “the chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote.”
Sala and pilot David Ibbotson went missing when the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane they were using disappeared from radar screens while traveling from France to Cardiff on Monday.
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After a desperate three-day search which found no trace of the plane, the authorities confirmed they have ended efforts to find the pair.
“Despite the best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, which has covered an area of approximately 1,700sq miles – with a significant amount of this searched more than once – and having examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery, we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft, the pilot or the passenger,” the statement from Harbor Master Captain David Barker read.
“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.
“The chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote,” it added.
“Next of kin have been informed of this development, and my thoughts go out to the family of the pilot and passenger at this most difficult of times.”
Argentine forward Sala, 28, signed for Cardiff City from French team Nantes in a deal worth £15 million over the weekend.
He had returned to France to say goodbye to his former teammates before planning to join his new team for training on Tuesday.
However, fears for his safety grew after the plane he was traveling in vanished from radar screens, triggering a desperate search.
Earlier this week, a concerning message emerged which the player had sent to his family before his flight, in which he said the plane he was due to travel in “looks like it’s going to fall apart.”
The football world has united in offering its support and hopes for the player and his family, with vigils and tributes appearing in Cardiff and Nantes – where Sala was a popular figure.
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