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Search resumes in hunt for Emiliano Sala's missing plane in English Channel

The search for missing Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala's plane has entered a third day as two planes focus on off-lying rocks and islands in the English Channel.

Rescue teams spotted multiple floating objects in the stretch between England and France on Tuesday but could not confirm if they belonged to the light aircraft that was carrying the Premier League club's record signing.

Five aircraft and two lifeboats have searched waters north of Alderney for the Cardiff-bound plane, which was carrying Sala and the pilot when it went off radar on Monday evening.

Authorities said there was no sign of those missing but were not optimistic about the outcome if the plane had entered the water.

Cardiff City fans have left tributes to Emiliano Sala outside the Cardiff City Stadium. Credit: PA

The search for the missing plane was called off at sunset on Tuesday night and resumed on Wednesday morning at sunrise.

French authorities have confirmed the former FC Nantes striker was on board as he made the trip from Brittany to Cardiff to join his new team-mates.

Floral tributes have been left outside the Cardiff City stadium for the club's new signing, while fans of his former club FC Nantes took to the streets in Brittany to chant Sala's name.

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In an emotional interview, Sala's father told an Argentinian TV station the family can only hope while they wait for his fate be confirmed.

This message was echoed by Cardiff City’s Chief Executive Ken Choo, saying the club and its fans “continue to pray for positive news.”

What's the latest on the search?

Guernsey Police confirmed the resumption of the search on Wednesday morning.

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Guernsey Police provided an update at 4.51pm to say items had been spotted in the search area.

"During the course of the 15-hour search, which used multiple air and sea assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, a number of floating objects have been seen in the water," Guernsey Police said.

"We have been unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft.

"If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim.

"Two planes and a lifeboat are still searching. A decision about an overnight search will be taken shortly."

Who is Emiliano Sala?

Emiliano Sala shook hands on a three-and-a-half year deal with Cardiff ceo Ken Choo at the weekend. Credit: cardiffcityfc.co.uk

Cardiff City announced the record signing of Sala from FC Nantes on Saturday.

The 28-year-old signed a three-and-a-half year deal at the Cardiff City Stadium after his 12 goals in 19 appearances made him the third top scorer in the French top division this season.

Sala told the club's website: "I’m very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new teammates and get down to work.

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"For me it feels special [to be the Club’s record signing]. I have come here wanting to work and to help my teammates and the Club. I can’t wait to get to work straight away and do everything I can."

A photo posted on Sala’s Instagram account on Monday shows him with his Nantes team-mates as he bid them a "final goodbye" in Spanish.

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FC Nantes also paid tribute to the outgoing player's goalscoring prowess in a farewell video posted on the club's Twitter account.

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  • What have Cardiff City said?

Cardiff City Executive Director and Chief Executive Choo said in a statement: "We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

"Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

"We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

"All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

"We continue to pray for positive news."

Keith Morgan, chairman of Cardiff City Supporters' Trust said fans were now in a state of shock for a player whose signing had generated enthusiasm for the club's bid to remain in the Premier League.

The football tributes came as the player's family also shared their fears for him.

What did his family say?

Emiliano Sala's father spoke to a TV station in Argentina. Credit: C5N

Sala's father Horacio told Argentinian television he learned that his son's plane was missing from friends.

"I don’t know what could have happened," he said, adding that the family are only left to hope with his fate still unconfirmed.

Horacio said he didn't speak to his son before his doomed flight to the UK but was excited by the career-changing transfer to the Premier League.

"For him, for everyone it was a great step," he said. "He’s a local boy, he’s a humble boy."

Sala spent three-and-a-half years at Nantes until his move to Cardiff.

Nantes head coach Vahid Halilhodzic told French newspaper La Voix du Nord: "It was already a delicate period. However, this, this is very difficult. We are waiting, but we are not kidding ourselves ... we expect the worst."

What was the response in Nantes?

Supporters of FC Nantes took to the streets on Tuesday evening to show their support for Sala.

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What else is known about the plane's disappearance?

Guernsey Police said the Piper PA-46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft carrying two people, departed Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

On passing Guernsey it “requested descent”, but Jersey air traffic control (ATC) lost contact with the plane while it was flying at 2,300ft.

The location of the point where the plane lost contact. Credit: PA Graphics

Guernsey Coastguard received an alert at 8.23pm from Jersey ATC that a light aircraft had gone off their radar approximately 15 miles north of Guernsey.

A major search and rescue operation was triggered involving both St Peter Port and Alderney lifeboats and HM Coastguard’s Air Search 1 and 2 helicopters.

Air Search 1 and a French rescue helicopter based in Cherbourg resumed the search of the area at 8am on Tuesday.

Rescue operations were halted at sunset on Tuesday evening and will not start again until sunrise on Wednesday.