Cardiff City ‘in shock’ after plane carrying new player disappears over English Channel

Sala

Cardiff City's chief executive has said everyone at the club is in 'shock' after a plane carrying new record signing Emiliano Sala disappeared over the English Channel.

Ken Choo was speaking as one of the men leading the search warned that the chances of finding survivors were "reducing very rapidly".

The search was launched on Monday night after the Piper PA-46 Malibu light aircraft disappeared from radar en route from Nantes in France to Cardiff, where the Argentinian striker was due to join his new teammates for training on Tuesday.

France Missing Plane Sala
Emiliano Sala playing for FC Nantes (AP/David Vincent)

Mr Choo said: "We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing.

"We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

"Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation."

Channel plane crash
Cardiff City Football Club Chief exec Ken Choo (PA Wire)

He added: "All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.Mr Choo said the Premier League club had called off training on Tuesday morning, adding that "the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire club with Emiliano and the pilot."

"We continue to pray for positive news."

Graphic locates search for a missing aircraft near Alderney in the Channel Islands
(PA Graphics)

Over 1,000 square miles has been searched by five aircraft and two lifeboats but "no trace" of the plane has been found, Guernsey Police said.

John Fitzgerald, chief officer of Channel Islands Air Search, said: "I think with the sea temperatures and the sea conditions the chances of finding anybody alive are reducing all the time.

"The sea temperatures are very, very cold and just sap the core temperature of anybody in the water very, very quickly."

An update from Guernsey Police said: "Conditions during the search last night were challenging, with wave heights of up to two metres, with heavy rain showers and poor visibility.

"Today the sea is much calmer and although visibility was good, it is now deteriorating."

The plane, a single turbine engine aircraft carrying the footballer and his pilot, left Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

As it was passing Guernsey, the pilot "requested descent" but Jersey air traffic control (ATC) lost contact while it was flying at 2,300ft around 15 miles north of Guernsey.

Rescue teams were scrambled but were unable to find anything on Monday night, with the search resuming at 8am on Tuesday.

Premier League strugglers Cardiff paid a fee in the region of £15 million for the footballer, one of the leading scorers in French Ligue 1.

A photograph posted on Sala's Instagram account on Monday showed him with teammates from his former club FC Nantes with a caption that included the word "ciao" (bye).

FC Nantes postponed its next Coupe de France match in the wakes of the news.

The manufacturer of the missing aircraft said it had not received any official notification of the incident.

A spokeswoman for Piper said: "Once notified, Piper Aircraft will assist the local and US government agencies as required."

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