Emiliano Sala: 'No hope' for missing Cardiff City player

Emiliano Sala was returning to Cardiff on Monday after signing for the club at the weekend. /GETTY IMAGES
Emiliano Sala was returning to Cardiff on Monday after signing for the club at the weekend. /GETTY IMAGES

There is "no hope" of finding missing Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala, a search and rescue officer has said.

The Argentine striker, 28, and a pilot were on board the plane which lost contact off Alderney in the Channel Islands on Monday night.

Chief officer of Channel Islands Air Search, John Fitzgerald, said "even the most fit person" would only last a few hours in the water.

The search for the missing aircraft and its occupants resumed on Wednesday.

Sala reportedly sent a WhatsApp voice message to family, saying he was "so scared".

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

As of 11:30 GMT on Wednesday, Guernsey Police said there were three planes and one helicopter in the air as they searched for traces of the Piper Malibu plane.

The force said it was also "reviewing satellite imagery and mobile phone data to see if they can be of any assistance in the search. So far today nothing spotted can be attributed to the missing plane".

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

Mr Fitzgerald said: "Sadly, I really don't think, personally, there is any hope. At this time of year, the conditions out there are pretty horrendous if you are actually in the water."

Guernsey Police is working on four possibilities, including that the "aircraft broke up on contact with the water, leaving them in the sea" and they "landed on water and made it into the life raft we know was on board".

"Our search area is prioritised on the life raft option," the force said.

Jersey's inshore lifeboat is following up on reports of debris in Bouley Bay, which is in the north of the island, and a French military jet will join the search, which is likely to go on until darkness on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman said there were no plans to rearrange the Bluebirds' next Premier League match against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on 29 January.

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