A SEARCH is underway after authorities lost contact with the light aircraft carrying new Cardiff City signing Emiliano Sala from France to Wales.
French police have confirmed that the 28-year-old Argentinian striker was on the light aircraft PA 46 Malibu travelling from Nantes to Cardiff yesterday evening, January 21st.
The flight disappeared from radar near the Casquets lighthouse on Alderney in the Channel Islands at around 8.30pm yesterday evening, Guernsey Police say.
Three people including Sala and a pilot were onboard the plane, which was flying in complicated weather conditions, according to French newspaper 20 Minutes.
A land and sea search operation is now underway to find the plane with coastguard rescue helicopters and crews from Alderney and Guernsey RNLI joining the search around the lighthouse.
The Alderney lifeboat was launched at 8.50pm on Monday night.
In a statement Guernsey Police said:
"Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 20:23 from Jersey ATC, that a light aircraft had gone off their radar approximately 15 miles north of Guernsey, initiating a major search and rescue operation involving both St Peter Port and Alderney lifeboats. Air Search 1 and 2 HM Coastguard helicopters are also involved in the search.
"The PA 46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft was on route from Nantes in France, to Cardiff in Wales, with two people on board when it was lost off radar as Jersey ATC was attempting to make contact.
— Emiliano Sala (@EmilianoSala1) January 21, 2019
"A search model was created on SARIS, based on the likely ditching position, and all search and rescue assets were tasked to the area.
"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.
"At this time no trace of the missing aircraft had been found.
"The aircraft departed Nantes at 1915 for Cardiff. The aircraft was flying at 5000 feet. The aircraft on passing Guernsey requested descent. Jersey ATC lost contact whilst it was flying at 2300 feet.
"Air Search 1 and a French rescue helicopter based in Cherbourg, resumed the search of the area at 08:00."
The Argentinian had made club history on Saturday January 19th after signing for Cardfif City in a record £15 million deal.
In one of his last social media posts, Sala shared a photo of his former Nantes teammates, captioning the image “Ciao” alongside several heart emojis.