PARIS, France, Jan 22 – Premier League club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, is missing presumed dead after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel on Monday.
Here’s what we know about the incident:
– Heading to Wales –
Sala, 28, signed for Cardiff for a fee reported to be around £15 million ($19 million) last weekend and was heading to the Welsh capital after saying his final goodbyes to former team-mates at French Ligue 1 Nantes on Monday. He had scored 13 goals for the club this season, which attracted Cardiff’s interest as they fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League. Sala had posted a photo on his Instagram account surrounded by players from the French club saying “La ultima ciao (the last goodbye).”
– Channel Islands search –
French civil aviation authorities confirmed that Sala was on board a single-propeller Piper light aircraft that went missing off the Channel Islands on Monday night. A statement from police on Guernsey, a British Crown dependency just off the coast of France, said the pilot had requested to lower his altitude shortly before air traffic control in neighbouring Jersey lost contact with the plane when it was flying at 2,300 feet (700 metres).
– Operation suspended –
After a search was called off on Monday because of high winds, two helicopters, five aircraft and a lifeboat joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the plane. One of the rescuers said they were fearing for the worst especially due to the cold temperature of the sea. Guernsey police noted the chances of survival were slim and the efforts would resume at sunrise Wednesday.
– Shock –
The Malaysian-owned Welsh club’s executive director Ken Choo expressed his shock as he awaited more information on the missing plane carrying the Argentinian. Nantes president Waldemar Kita said in an official statement his thoughts were with Sala’s friends and family.
– Night-time vigil –
Nantes fan group ‘A La Nantaise’ released a statement calling for supporters of Sala’s former club to gather in the centre of the city for a vigil at 6:30pm (1730 GMT) on Tuesday.