Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Emiliano Sala: Argentina striker on board missing plane over English Channel

The recently signed Cardiff City player was travelling to his new club from Brittany in France

A small plane with a professional footballer on board went missing over the English Channel in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Emiliano Sala, an Argentine striker, was travelling from Nantes Airport in Brittany to Wales to complete his transfer to the English Premier League club Cardiff City.

The French Civil Aviation Authority finally confirmed that the 28-year-old was on the lightweight Piper Malibu aircraft.

He was flying just hours after saying his last goodbyes to former team mates in France.

Guernsey police said "no trace" of the missing aircraft had so far been found.

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

Sightings of red flares were reported during a lifeboat and helicopter search, but "nothing of significance was found", a spokeswoman for Channel Islands Air Search said.

The plane took off from Nantes at 7.15pm local time, and had been flying at 5,000ft when it contacted Jersey air traffic control requesting descent, officers said.

The aircraft lost contact while flying at around 2,300ft.

Two people are believed to have been on board the plane.

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French police said the aircraft disappeared from radar near Alderney, an island in the English Channel, last night.

Officers from Guernsey, another island in the area, said a search-and-rescue operation was under way.

The rescue party included two helicopters and a lifeboat.

HM Coastguard said the incident was not in the UK's specific search and rescue area, although it confirmed it had sent two helicopters to help.

Cardiff signed Sala, who had been at Nantes since 2016, for a club record fee reported to be about £15 million (Dh71m) on Saturday. The three-and-a-half year contract is subject to receiving international clearance.

"I'm very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can't wait to start training, meet my new teammates and get down to work," Sala said on Saturday.

"For me it feels special [to be the club's record signing]. I have come here wanting to work and to help my teammates and the club."

Updated: January 23, 2019 02:04 PM

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