Rescue workers call off search for missing plane carrying Cardiff footballer

Rescue workers have called off their search for the missing plane carrying footballer Emiliano Sala, Guernsey's harbour master has said.

Captain David Barker said on Wednesday that the chances Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson had survived were "extremely remote".

The aircraft has been missing since it disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Monday night.

Emiliano Sala missing plane
Emiliano Sala missing plane

After scanning thousands of square miles and reviewing all "information available" the "difficult decision to end the search" was taken, Captain Barker said.

"The chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote," he 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."

Rescue teams scanned around 1,700 square miles and examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery but had not found "any trace" of the plane, Captain Barker said.

There has been more than 24 hours of continuous searching, with 80 hours combined flying time across three planes and five helicopters.

Two lifeboats were also involved and help was provided by passing ships and fishing boats.

Captain Barker added: "The final aircraft searching for the missing plane and those on board has now landed.

"Although we are no longer actively searching, the incident remains open and we will be broadcasting to all vessels and aircraft in the area to keep a look out for any trace of the aircraft.

"This will continue indefinitely."

Emiliano Sala missing plane
Emiliano Sala missing plane

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman described Sala's disappearance as a "tragic accident" but said the light aircraft was not organised by the club.

He also said the sister of the £15 million Argentinian striker was on her way to South Wales.

"We continue to collect data to try to understand what happened from this end. Everything points towards a tragic accident, it really does," Dalman told Sky Sports News HQ.

Sala was on his way back to Wales after saying goodbye to his Nantes team-mates on Monday night having signed a three-and-a-half-year deal to join the Bluebirds two days earlier.

According to Guernsey Police, the single turbine engine aircraft departed Nantes at 1915 on Monday for the Welsh capital and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

On passing Guernsey it "requested descent", but Jersey air traffic control lost contact with the plane while it was flying at 2,300ft.

Cardiff's chief executive, Ken Choo, described Sala as a "great person" and revealed that the player had described joining the Premier League club as "one of the best days of his life".