Hope fades in search for missing footballer

Cardiff City’s chief executive has said everyone at the club is in “shock” after a plane carrying new record signing Emiliano Sala disappeared over the English Channel.

Ken Choo spoke ahead of search and rescue operations being suspended overnight following sunset yesterday.

Rescue workers had earlier spotted “floating objects” in the water but were unable to confirm if these were from the aircraft, Guernsey Police said.

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The force said search efforts would resume at sunrise but the chances of passenger survival were “slim”.

The search was launched on Monday night after the Piper PA-46 Malibu light aircraft disappeared from radar en route from Nantes in France to Cardiff, where the Argentinian striker was due to join his new team-mates for training yesterday.

Mr Choo said: “We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing.

“We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

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“Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.”

He added: “All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.”

Mr Choo said the Premier League club had called off training yesterday morning, adding: “The thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire club with Emiliano and the pilot.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

Sala’s father Horacio told Argentinian news channel C5N he was “desperate” after hearing the plane was missing.

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“I was working, I can’t believe it. I am desperate,” he said. “Hopefully there will be good news.”

He added: “I don’t know what could have happened. My family knew nothing, I told them.”

More than 1,000 square miles have been searched by five aircraft and two lifeboats but “no trace” of the plane has been found, Guernsey Police said.

Premier League strugglers Cardiff paid about £15 million for the footballer, one of the leading scorers in French Ligue 1.

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A photograph posted on his Instagram account on Monday showed him with team-mates from his former club FC Nantes with a caption that included the word “ciao” (bye).

FC Nantes postponed its next Coupe de France match after the news.

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