Search for missing plane called off

LONDON • Rescuers yesterday ended their search for the plane carrying Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala, which disappeared over the English Channel on Monday, saying there was little chance anyone on board had survived.

Sala, Cardiff City's new signing, and the pilot David Ibbotson have been missing since Monday night. Rescuers have scoured about 4,400 sq km but have found no trace of the aircraft or those on board.

Guernsey's harbour master David Barker said in a statement: "We reviewed all the information available to us, as well as knowing what emergency equipment was on board, and have taken the difficult decision to end the search.

"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."

After the plane disappeared, a recording emerged of a voice message Sala reportedly sent in which he expressed concern about the single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft he was in.

The Argentina-born forward, 28, was en route from Nantes in western France to join his Welsh team Cardiff.

Barker said the search involved 80 hours' flying time by three planes and five helicopters, with two lifeboats and other ships in the area also helping.

He said: "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."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2019, with the headline 'Search for missing plane called off'. Print Edition | Subscribe