Rescue workers find ‘no trace’ of missing plane carrying footballer

Rescue workers searching for the missing plane carrying footballer Emiliano Sala have found "no trace" of the aircraft, police said.

Sala and his pilot, named locally as Dave Ibbotson, have been missing since their plane disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Monday night.

Search efforts continued on Wednesday after an audio recording allegedly sent by Sala from the aircraft was shared on Argentinian media.

The footballer can be heard saying he is "scared" and aboard a plane that "seems like it is falling to pieces".

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Rough sea conditions are reducing the likelihood of survivors being found, one rescue leader said.

John Fitzgerald, chief officer of Channel Islands Air Search, said: "I can't see how anybody could survive in such temperatures for that length of time.

"Looking at the sea conditions today it's very rough out there, there's a good strong wind blowing, with sea conditions [that] are pretty horrendous."

A "visibly upset" woman declined to comment at Mr Ibbotson's home in Crowle, near Scunthorpe, the Grimsby Telegraph reported.

Mr Ibbotson has been associated with skydiving company Target Skysports, based in Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire.

A spokesman for the business referred enquiries to the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) when contacted by the Press Association.

Guernsey Police said rescue workers had launched three planes and one helicopter in a bid to find the missing plane.

The aircraft scanned 280 sq miles of a target area after reviewing tidal and weather information, while coastal areas around Alderney and off-lying rocks and islands were also searched.

Police said rescue workers were prioritising the possibility that the plane landed on water and its life raft was used.

Satellite imagery and mobile phone data were also reviewed to aid the search.

A decision whether to continue will be taken later on Wednesday, police said.

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu left Nantes in France at 7.15pm for Cardiff, and after requesting to descend, lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

The AAIB said it was investigating the loss of the plane and working closely with authorities in the US, France and Argentina.

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman told the BBC it had not booked Sala's flight and the footballer "made his own arrangements".

Sala was signed by Premier League strugglers Cardiff from FC Nantes for a club record £15 million and was due to start training on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old posted a picture with his former Nantes team-mates on Monday captioned "the last goodbye" before flying to Wales.

Cardiff's chief executive Ken Choo said the club was "shocked" and distressed" by the plane's disappearance.

A rally was held in Nantes city centre on Tuesday night where fans sang songs and laid tributes.

Clubs and players across the world took to social media to send their thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Sala and the pilot.