Guernsey Police have ended the search for the missing plane which carried Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson. The force added that the chances of the Cardiff City star’s survival were “extremely remote”. On Monday, the plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared from radar over the English Channel, near the Channel Islands.
It had been flying at 5,000 feet but was at around 2,300 when Jersey air traffic controllers lost contact.
Two days of searching resulted in no trace of the missing aircraft.
Guernsey Harbour Master David Barker said in a statement: “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.”
Captain Barker said the chances Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson had survived were “extremely remote”. after conducting searches around the clock.
Police in Guernsey have called of the search for the missing Cardiff City player
The captain said after scanning thousands of square miles and reviewing all “information available”, the “difficult decision to end the search” was taken,
Two lifeboats were also involved and help was provided by passing ships and fishing boats.
Captain Barker added: “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.
Rescuers have ended the search the missing Cardiff City striker saying his survival was “remote”
“This will continue indefinitely.”
Capytain Barker said the search had involved 80 hours combined flying time by three planes and five helicopters, with two lifeboats and other ships in the area also helping.
The operation covered an area of 1,700 square miles.
Just hours beforehand, police said on Thursday morning they had resumed their search for the missing footballer afte briefly halting the rescue operation.
Sala was aboard a Piper PA-46 Malibu when it went off the radar on Monday
Searches for the plane were suspended at 2:00am on Tuesday “due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility”
Guernsey police wrote on Twitter: “We are commencing a coastal search using be Channel Islands Air Search plane of Burhou, the Casquets, Alderney, the north coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula, north coast of Jersey and then back over Sark.”
A dramatic WhatsApp voice message has emerged in the days since the plane went missing.
Sala was heard telling friends he was “getting scared” and “aboard a plane that seems like it is falling to pieces”.
Sala says: “Hello, little brothers, how are you crazy people?
“Brother, I’m dead, I was here in Nantes doing things, things, things, things and things, and it never stops, it never stops, it never stops.
“I’m here on a plane that looks like it’s about to fall apart, and I’m going to Cardiff, crazy, tomorrow we already start, and in the afternoon we start training, boys, in my new team.
“Let’s see what happens, so, how are you brothers and sisters, all right?
“If in an hour and a half you have no news from me, I don’t know if they are going to send someone to look for me because they cannot find me, but you know … Dad, how scared am I!”
Mr Sala had only just signed a new contract for Cardiff City, having moved across from French club FC Nantes.
He was signed last week for a record club fee of around £15million.
Pilot and gas-repairman Dave Ibbotson held a private pilot’s licence.
Captain David Barker said that Emiliano Sala’s family “were not happy” that search was called off
But investigators still wish to probe if Mr Ibbotson was in need of a commercial licence.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed it will look into whether the flight was legal.
British law rules that private pilots cannot make profit from carrying passengers.
After the announcement that the rescue mission would end, it was reveaked Mr Sala’s family are “not content” with the decision to stop actively searching for those on board the missing aircraft.
Emiliano Sala signed for Cardiff on Saturday
But Captain Barker defended the move, saying he is “absolutely confident” no more could have been done.
He told reporters: “I have taken the decision to terminate our search and that decision has been difficult, as you can imagine, not least because there are a huge number of people both here in the UK and in France who have been involved in the search over the last three days all of whom including myself had hoped for a positive outcome.”
“But that’s not been the case. But more importantly, because I’m well aware that this will be very unwelcome news for the family and friends of the two occupants of the missing aircraft.”
Answering a question from the press, he said: “”I understand that ‘s family are not content with the decision to stop the search and I fully understand that.”
He said he had followed protocols used by the UK Coastguard in coming to the decision.
He added: “I’m absolutely confident that we could not have done any more.”
This is a breaking story. More to follow.
Published at Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:22:00 +0000