Emiliano Sala, Cardiff City Striker, Feared Dead After Plane Disappears - MissiveBlog

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Monday, 4 February 2019

Emiliano Sala, Cardiff City Striker, Feared Dead After Plane Disappears

Emiliano Sala, center left, a 28-year-old soccer player from Argentina, enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence relatively late in his career.CreditCreditStephane Mahe/Reuters
Emiliano Sala, a soccer player who recently moved to the English Premier League, was aboard a small airplane that disappeared Monday night while crossing the English Channel, and he and the pilot are feared dead, the authorities said on Tuesday.
John Fitzgerald, chief officer for Channel Islands Air Search, said that an air and sea operation would continue, but he did not expect to find either survivors or parts of the aircraft.
“I think we’re sort of getting to that stage now that it would be difficult to find anyone alive,” Mr. Fitzgerald, 58, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “The cold would have taken effect. The tide flows so fast, there’s the wind and a lot of white water — it’s more and more unlikely for the chance of survival.”
France’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that Mr. Sala, 28, who was about to begin playing for the club Cardiff City, was on the plane along with the pilot. Edwige Leroy, a spokeswoman for the agency, said it was not yet sure whether anyone else was aboard.
 The police in Guernsey, an island in the Channel, said two people were on the plane.
Mr. Fitzgerald said it was unclear why the aircraft had disappeared. “We don’t know whether it was system failure,” he said.
The Piper Malibu plane — a single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft — departed Nantes, a city in western France, at 8:15 p.m. local time — 7:15 in Britain — on Monday, headed for Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
 By 8:23 p.m. in Britain, it had disappeared from air traffic control radar, about 15 miles north of Guernsey, the Guernsey police said in a statement.
“The aircraft on passing Guernsey requested descent,” the Guernsey police said.
They did not say why the pilot would have wanted to descend so far short of the destination, but Mr. Fitzgerald speculated that it could have been to avoid freezing conditions and precipitation.

               “They were possibly trying to get underneath the weather,” he said.
The plane was flying at an altitude of 2,300 feet when it lost contact.
A search-and-rescue operation started Monday evening in heavy seas and continued on Tuesday, with British and French helicopters, airplanes and ships taking part. The search was suspended at dusk on Tuesday, with plans to resume on Wednesday morning, the Guernsey Police said.
The plane’s disappearance could be the second air-related tragedy for the Premier League in a short span. Less than three months ago, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner of Leicester City, died when his helicopter crashed as it was leaving the stadium.
Mr. Sala, a 28-year-old forward from Argentina, enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence relatively late in his career. At one point this season, playing for Nantes in the French league, he had scored more league goals than any other Argentine player in Europe’s major leagues — a list that includes the likes of Paulo Dybala of Juventus, Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan and Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
Mr. Sala left his homeland for Europe at the age of 16. After attracting attention from several teams in England and Spain, he was initially recruited to join the youth development system at Girondins de Bordeaux, spending time on loan to Orleans, Niort and Caen as a teenager.
In 2015, he signed with Nantes for 1 million euros, more than $1.1 million.
He proved to be a reliable, if unspectacular, striker — the “sort you do not see much any more,” according to the Nantes team manager, Vahid Halilhodzic. But this season he had a run of 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 games, which made him, for a while, the most prolific striker in the country.
His form was sufficiently impressive for Cardiff City to pay 15 million pounds, or more than $19 million, to sign him — a record for the club. Desperate for some offensive power, the team ranked next-to-last in scoring among the 20 Premier League teams, and had played a converted defender as its main striker for much of the season. It was in danger of relegation.
Mr. Sala was in Nantes on Monday to say goodbye to his teammates, according to The Guardian. He was scheduled to start training with Cardiff City on Tuesday morning.
The Nantes team postponed a match that had been scheduled for Wednesday against L’Entente, a club in France’s third tier.

Source nytimes.com

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