Premier League club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, is presumed dead after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel.
Sala, signed on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported fee of 17 million euros ($19.3 million), was flying to Cardiff aboard a small plane that disappeared from radars around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Guernsey on Monday night.
French civil aviation authorities confirmed that 28-year-old Sala “was on board the plane”. It is thought there was one other passenger on the aircraft.
A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island 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.
After a search was called off on Monday because of high winds, two helicopters, two planes and a lifeboat joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the single-propeller plane.
“So far over 1,000 square miles have been searched by a total of five aircraft and two lifeboats,” Guernsey police said at 1145 GMT.“There has been no trace of the aircraft. The search is continuing.”
Sala’s father, Horacio, told Argentine television station C5N he was “distraught” at the news, which he discovered from press reports.
“I don’t know anything, I haven’t had any information. I can’t believe it, it’s incredible,” he said. “I’m distraught. Hopefully everything will be OK.”
Sala, who had been at Nantes since 2015 and had scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.
Neither club has commented publicly on the disappearance, but Nantes have had their French Cup match against third-tier side Entente SSG on Wednesday postponed.