Police searching for Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala and at least one other on board a light aircraft that went missing over the English Channel said on Tuesday there were “slim” chances of finding survivors.
“We have found no signs of those on board,” Guernsey Police said. “If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim.”
Officials in Guernsey, a channel island off the coast of north-west France, said they were suspending their search until dawn Wednesday.
The 28-year-old footballer Sala was en route to Wales from France after recently signing with Premier League club Cardiff City.
Police began the search and rescue operation off the nearby island of Alderney hours after the light aircraft PA 46 Malibu disappeared from radar late on Monday.
Guernsey police said a total of two people were on the plane, however France Info reported there were two passengers and a pilot on board.
Cardiff executive director Ken Choo said the club was “shocked” over the situation.
“We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was doe to be his first day with the team,” he said.
“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.”
An official involved in the search said it unlikely that survivors would be found in the water.
“The water is really just too cold now for any form of survival outside of an hour or so,” John Fitzgerald, chief executive of Channels Island Air Search, told Sky Sports.
Cardiff signed Sala from French club Nantes for a club-record fee reported to be 15 million pounds (19 million dollars). The striker had scored 13 goals for Nantes this season.
“You could see the happiness in his face when he signed for Cardiff City,” Choo said. “One of the best days of his life is what he has expressed.”
Nantes’ French cup match scheduled for Wednesday at Entente, has been postponed, according to the French football federation.
Hundreds of club’s fans gathered to lay flowers in the western French city late Tuesday, according to public broadcaster FranceInfo.