London, Jan 22 (IANS) French civil aviation authorities on Tuesday confirmed that Cardiff City FC player Emiliano Sala was aboard a light aircraft that went missing over the English Channel.
The Welsh club, which plies its trade in the English Premier League, had already issued a statement to say it was concerned that Sala, who signed for the Bluebirds on Saturday from French club FC Nantes, was one of the two passengers on board the single turbine PA 46 Malibu aircraft travelling from Nantes to Cardiff, reports Efe news.
“Sala was aboard the aircraft. The search for it is ongoing and that is all I can say,” a spokesperson for French civil aviation told press.
The plane went off the radar some 24 kilometres (15 miles) north of Guernsey at 8.23 p.m., police on the British crown dependency in the English Channel said.
“We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night. We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further,” Cardiff City FC chairman Mehmet Dalman told TalkSport radio earlier in the day. “We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala,” he added.
The Welsh side signed the 28-year-old striker for a club-record deal worth 15 million pounds ($19.4 million).
The forward, who has scored 12 goals so far this season in Ligue 1, uploaded a photograph of him bidding farewell to his Nantes teammates in an Instagram post on Monday.
Guernsey Police said they received an alert from Jersey air traffic control that the plane had gone missing.
“The aircraft departed Nantes at 7.15 p.m. 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,” police said.
The search was postponed overnight and resumed on Tuesday at 8 a.m.