Authorities have confirmed that the search for the missing plane flying Cardiff City’s record signing Emiliano Sala to South Wales has been called to an end.
The aircraft carrying the striker from Nantes disappeared on Monday, losing contact with air traffic control near Casquets lighthouse – around eight miles north west of Guernsey in the English Channel.
The search reconvened on Thursday morning, but was called off in the early afternoon after officials felt they had exhausted their options.
A statement from Harbour Master Captain David Barker, released by Guernsey Police, reads:
“My team have just met to review the search and rescue operation which has been underway since the plane disappeared on Monday night.
“Despite the best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, which has covered an area of approximately 1,700sq. miles – with a significant amount of this searched more than once – and having examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery, we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft, the pilot or passenger.
“There has been over 24 hours of continuous searching, with 80 hours combined flying time across three planes and five helicopters. Two lifeboats have also been involved, as well as assistance from various passing ships and fishing boats.
“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.
“The chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote.
“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.
“This has been a very thorough and extensive search, co-ordinated from the Guernsey-based Joint Emergency Services Control Centre and has seen exemplary co-operation from all countries involved, for which I would like to extend my personal thanks.
“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.”
Please read the attached statement.
Unless there is a significant development, there will be no further updates pic.twitter.com/jbEIFMB3zi
— Guernsey Police (@GuernseyPolice) January 24, 2019
Tributes continue to pour in for the missing 28-year-old as well as pilot Dave Ibbotson.
In a club statement on Thursday, Cardiff owner Vincent Tan said: “Monday evening’s news shook everyone at Cardiff City FC to the core.
“We were looking forward to providing Emiliano with the next step in his life and career.
“Those who met Emiliano described a good-natured and humble young man who was eager to impress in the Premier League.
“The response from the football community has been truly touching and we place on record our sincere thanks to those who have sent messages of support.
“We also thank everyone involved with the search and rescue operation, and continue to pray for Emiliano, David Ibbotson and their families.”