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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 16 February 2019

Search resumes for missing plane of newly-signed Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala

Argentine, who signed on Saturday from French club Nantes, was flying to Cardiff on a single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft

Police on the British island of Guernsey resumed the search Wednesday for a missing plane carrying Premier League player Emiliano Sala, who is presumed dead after debris was found in the water.

The light aircraft carrying the Argentine striker, who signed for Cardiff City at the weekend, disappeared from radar around 20 kilometres north of Guernsey on Monday night.

"We have resumed searching," the police said.

"Two planes are taking off and will search a targeted area we believe has the highest likelihood of finding anything, based on review of the tides and weather since it [the plane] went missing.

"Coastal areas around [the nearby island of] Alderney and off-lying rocks and islands will also be searched from the air."

Graphic: Ramon Penas / The National
Graphic: Ramon Penas / The National

Sala, who signed on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported fee of £15 million (Dh71.35m), was flying to Cardiff on a single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft.

It has emerged he expressed concerns about the plane on the flight, according to an audio message sent to friends and relatives.

"I'm on a plane that looks like it's going to fall apart, and I'm leaving for Cardiff," Sala said in a WhatsApp audio message carried by Argentine media.

"If in an hour and a half you have no news from me, I don't know if they will send people to look for me, because they will not find me, you know. Dad, I'm so scared," he added.

A 15-hour search Tuesday covering a 3,000 square-kilometre area in the Channel spotted "a number of floating objects in the water", Guernsey police said on Tuesday.

"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," they added.

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Read more on Emiliano Sala:

Cristiano Ronaldo criticised for private jet post hours after Emiliano Sala disappearance

Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala sent message saying he was 'scared about plane' before it disappeared

Nantes fans hold vigil for missing striker Emiliano Sala - in pictures

Cardiff 'shocked and distressed' at news plane carrying new striker crashed in English Channel

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In Sala's hometown of Progreso, his father Horacio told reporters that as "the hours go by and I don't know anything, it makes me fear the worst".

Daniel Ribero, president of the San Martin Athletic Club in the town, told AFP: "These are hours of uncertainty, of much pain and much sadness, waiting for the good news that he is alive."

The player's mother, Mercedes, told Argentine television channel C5N that the plane belonged to Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman.

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.

Cardiff's executive director Ken Choo said they were all "very shocked" at the news, saying they had expected Sala to arrive on Monday evening ahead of his first day with the team on Tuesday.

"We continue to pray for positive news," he said.

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona said he was hoping the plane had simply gone astray.

"I hope it went to the wrong airport and we find him alive, that's all," he said in an audio message.

"It's a terrible misfortune when such things happen."

Nantes have postponed their French Cup tie against third-tier side Entente Sannois Saint-Gratien on Wednesday until Sunday.

Hundreds of fans gathered for a vigil in the western French city on Tuesday, placing flowers, scarves and flags on a fountain and chanting the striker's name.

"I still have hope, he is a fighter," Nantes president Waldemar Kita tweeted.

Updated: January 23, 2019 02:50 PM

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