A private search to trace Emiliano Sala, pilot David Ibbotson and the missing aircraft which disappeared on Monday is to continue this week after launching on Saturday.
The official search for Sala , Mr Ibbotson and the aircraft they were flying on was officially called off on Thursday, leaving the footballer’s family distraught.
Sala, who became Cardiff City’s club record signing on Saturday, had been in Nantes saying farewell to his former club teammates and was returning to the Welsh capital when the light aircraft disappeared near the Channel Islands shortly after requesting to descend.
The search got underway immediately but was called off on Thursday afternoon after Guernsey harbour master Captain David Barker said “the chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote” and no trace of the aircraft, Sala or Mr Ibbotson had been found. Those involved have spoken to us about what it was like being inside the desperate centre of unfolding tragedy.
Sala’s family, former teammates at French club Nantes and even the Argentine president pleaded for efforts to continue.
A remarkable crowdfunding campaign raised enough to finance a private search, with the new operation beginning on Saturday.
The GoFundMe page set up by Cardiff City striker Sala’s representatives, Sport Cover, and family has been inundated with donations since going live on Friday. Its original target was €150,000, but it had surpassed its second target of €300,000 on Sunday.
The new private search saw two boats sent out into the English Channel on Saturday morning.
We now know they are two Guernsey fishing vessels “that have been visually scanning the area of the last radar contact for any clues to the plane’s whereabouts”.
Sala’s family travelled to Guernsey on Sunday, where plans are being made on how to progress the second search.
Marine scientist David Mearns, who spoke on behalf of the Sala family on Sunday, is involved in coordinating this search.
He said the family still have hope and are treating this as a missing persons case, and said investigative, technical underwater searches are being considered.
Further details on how the search will progress are set to be released on Monday [today].
This comes after Sala’s sister Romina visited Cardiff to meet club chiefs, before visiting the hundreds of floral tributes, shirts and messages that have been left outside Cardiff City Stadium, where she broke down in tears.