Missing plane: Search to cover Jersey’s north coast

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In an update at 7.50am, Guernsey Police tweeted that they would commence a coastal air search, focusing on the islands of Burhou, Alderney and Sark, as well as the Casquets rocks, and the north coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula.

The tweet said: ‘We are commencing a coastal search using… 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.

‘Further information released when available.’

Mr Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were on board the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane which disappeared from radar en route from Nantes in France to Cardiff on Monday evening.

John Fitzgerald, Channel Islands Air Search chief officer, said it was unlikely that Mr Sala or Mr Ibbotson would be found alive.

Asked if that operation was now more about recovery than rescue, he told Sky Sports News: ‘I think it is very much that sort of recovery stage now.’

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman described Mr Sala’s disappearance as a ‘tragic accident’ but said the light aircraft was not organised by the club.

He also said the sister of the £15 million Argentinian striker was on her way to South Wales.

‘We continue to collect data to try to understand what happened from this end. Everything points towards a tragic accident, it really does,’ Mr Dalman said.

Mr Sala was on his way back to Wales after saying goodbye to his Nantes team-mates on Monday night, having signed a three-and-a-half-year deal to join the Bluebirds two days earlier.

According to Guernsey Police, the single turbine engine aircraft departed Nantes at 7.15pm on Monday for the Welsh capital and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

On passing Guernsey it ‘requested descent’, but Jersey air traffic control lost contact with the plane while it was flying at 2,300ft.

Cardiff’s chief executive, Ken Choo, described Sala as a ‘great person’ and revealed that the player had described joining the Premier League club as ‘one of the best days of his life’.

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