Last Updated: 2019-01-25
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LONDON, Jan 25 (NNN-AGENCIES) - The search for a missing aircraft that was carrying Cardiff footballer Emiliano Sala has been brought to an end by police, who say the chances of finding survivors are now "extremely remote."

The aircraft, which was taking Sala from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, went missing from radar on Monday evening, prompting a search and rescue operation based in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The plane was taking Sala from Nantes, the home of his former club, to the city of his new team, Cardiff City, which signed Sala on Saturday.

In a statement, Guernsey harbour master David Barker said next of kin had been informed of the decision to end the search.

"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," he said.

"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 families of the pilot and passenger at this most difficult of times."

Sala's sister, Romina Sala, pleaded for the search to resume, telling reporters she believes the individuals on board are still alive.

Nantes echoed Romina Sala's calls to continue the search in a message posted on their Twitter account.

"The club and its supporters strongly ask for the search to find @EmilianoSala1 to go on, for his family and his near relatives. Together for Emi !," the message read.

Police had suspended their latest efforts to locate the missing aircraft for a second successive night on Wednesday, with any hope of finding the passengers alive rapidly fading.

The final stage of the search and rescue operation had focused on coastal areas around the Channel Islands, a Guernsey police statement said.

Both French and British maritime authorities began searching for the missing single-engine Piper Malibu on Tuesday, with rescue aircraft and boats scouring more than 1,000 square miles of sea.

Police said a number of floating objects had been spotted in the water, but they could not confirm whether they were debris from the missing aircraft.

The search continued Wednesday with three planes and a helicopter involved, but again nothing was spotted in relation to the missing plane.

Sala, 28, an Argentine striker who had just signed with Cardiff City for 18 million, was flying from Nantes when the plane lost radar contact off Guernsey late on Monday.

Sala first arrived in France in 2010 when his potential was spotted by Bordeaux, who had him on their books for five years. He spent three spells out on loan, including half a season at Caen that convinced Nantes to sign him in the summer of 2015. He scored 36 times in 89 top-flight games for Les Canaris, including 12 this season, before signing with Cardiff. -- NNN-AGENCIES