Emiliano Sala: Private search begins as Cardiff City manager breaks silence | UK News
Relatives of missing footballer Emiliano Sala are in the Channel Islands to oversee a private search as Cardiff City’s manager described the situation as “traumatic”.
Seven days ago, the Argentine striker, 28, had been flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff, where he was set to play in the Premier League.
The Piper PA-46 Malibu plane disappeared from radar near the Channel Islands, with Sala and pilot David Ibbotson the only people on board.
The official search was suspended on Thursday, with Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker saying the chances of survival were “extremely remote”.
Speaking on Monday, Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock said: “Firstly I want to apologise for not doing anything last week.
“I have been in football management now for 40 years and it is by far the most difficult week in my career by an absolute mile.
“It’s traumatic. I can’t get my head around the situation,” he said, before saying his sympathies are with Sala’s family.
He added that there was a “sombre mood” among the Cardiff City players, who had yet to meet their new teammate.
Meanwhile Sala’s family are in the Channel Islands preparing to resume the private air and sea search after more than 4,000 people made donations on a GoFundMe page.
Donations from footballers including Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan helped surpass the €300,000 (£259,000) target.
More than 800,000 people have also signed an online petition demanding the search for the missing aircraft continues.
Sala’s family have refused to give up and his mother and sister were among relatives who flew to the island’s airport on Sunday.
Shripwreck hunting expert Dave Mearns, who is assisting the family, said they still have hope but are “struggling” with what has happened.
He said: “The family still have some hope, they’re looking at this as a missing person, a missing plane, and until they are satisfied, that’s the mode that we’re in.”
“This is a family that have come from Argentina with this huge shock out of nowhere and (is) struggling with what had happened, with very, very few answers about an unexplained loss.”
The flight left Nantes for Cardiff at 7.15pm on Monday and lost contact with Jersey air traffic control over the English Channel.
On Friday, text messages shared between Sala and the son of agent Willie McKay discussing flight arrangements emerged.
McKay said that although he had arranged the flight for Sala through a company he had used many times, he did not own the plane, select the aircraft or the pilot.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has opened a probe and their investigations will include whether the pilot had the correct licence.
Mr Ibbotson, 59, held a private pilot’s licence and passed a medical exam as recently as November, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
Staff and fans of Cardiff City, which signed Sala for a club record of £15m, are expected to wear yellow daffodils on Tuesday for their match against Arsenal.