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LATEST: French authorities confirm footballer Emiliano Sala was on board missing plane

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LATEST: French authorities confirm footballer Emiliano Sala was on board missing plane
Emiliano Sala. Photo: AFP
14:16 CET+01:00
Newly-signed Cardiff City FC striker Emiliano Sala was on board a plane from Nantes that has disappeared in the English Channel, French police have told the AFP news agency.
Premier League club Cardiff City's record new signing, Argentina-born striker Emiliano Sala, was on board a light aircraft that disappeared over the English Channel on Monday night, police sources told AFP.
 
French civil aviation authorities also confirmed on Tuesday that newly-signed Cardiff City striker Sala was on board a light aircraft feared missing off the Channel Islands.
 
Separately, police in Guernsey said the pilot of the plane had "requested descent", meaning it had made a request to lower its altitude, but not land, late on Monday.
 
Sala, signed by Cardiff on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported 17 million euro ($19.3 million) fee, was flying to Cardiff aboard a small plane that disappeared from radars around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the island of Guernsey.
 
 
The search for a missing plane (PA 46 Malibu) that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands sparked "genuine concerns" for the Argentine player who was on board. 
 
 
The red arrow shows Alderney. The plane went missing to the north of the island. Map: Google maps
 
( An illustration photo of a Piper Malibu plane. Photo Wikimedia commons.
 
 
Sala had returned to Nantes to greet his teammates one last time, before returning to Cardiff.
 
Guernsey police confirmed that were carrying out a rescue operation off the north of Alderney, the northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands (see tweet below). 
 
 
A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island just off the coast of France, said lifeboats and helicopters had searched for several hours for the plane on Monday night, which had two people on board, without success.
   
"The search was terminated at 02:00, with all search and rescue assets being stood down, due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility," the statement said.
  
Helicopters from the British and French coastguard joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the plane which is thought to have crashed.
 
 
Two people were on board the plane, as well as the pilot, which was flying in complicated weather conditions, according to French newspaper 20 Minutes. 
 
Two helicopters and a rescue ship are currently looking for them.
 
The Argentina-born striker was signed by Cardiff on Saturday from French club Nantes for a for a reported club record 17 million euro fee.
 
   
Sala, 28, who had been at Nantes since 2016 and had scored 12 league goals this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.
   
When he put pen to paper at Cardiff on Saturday, he said in a statement: "I'm very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can't wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.
   
"For me it feels special (to be the club's record signing). I have come here wanting to work and to help my team-mates and the club."
 
More to follow
 
 
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