Search for missing Cardiff City's Emiliano Sala resumes in English Channel

LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The search for Cardiff City's new soccer star, Emiliano Sala, resumed on Wednesday 36 hours after the light aircraft he was flying on disappeared in the English Channel.

Sala was flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff for his club debut when the plane lost radar contact off the English Channel island of Guernsey late on Monday.

"We have resumed searching," Guernsey police said. "Two planes are taking off and will search a targeted area we believe has the highest likelihood of finding anything, based on review of the tides and weather since it went missing."

The search team are now focusing their efforts on the possibility that the plane landed on water and he made it onto a life raft that was on board, British police said on Wednesday.

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Plane carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala goes missing
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Plane carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala goes missing
Flowers left on the statue of Cardiff City footballer Frederick Charles Keenor outside Cardiff City Football Club after a plane with new signing Emiliano Sala on board went missing over the English Channel on Monday night. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Flowers left on the statue of Cardiff City footballer Frederick Charles Keenor outside Cardiff City Football Club after a plane with new signing Emiliano Sala on board went missing over the English Channel on Monday night. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Flowers left on the statue of Cardiff City footballer Frederick Charles Keenor outside Cardiff City Football Club after a plane with new signing Emiliano Sala on board went missing over the English Channel on Monday night. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
FC Nantes' staff members stand in front of the FC Nantes training center of la Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, outside Nantes, on January 22, 2019 after the announcement of the vanishing of the plane carrying Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff. - Former FC Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who was juste hired by Cardiff, was on board of a missing plane that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands according to French police sources on January 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Nantes' French midfielder Samuel Moutoussamy leaves the FC Nantes training center of la Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, outside Nantes, on January 22, 2019 after the announcement of the vanishing of the plane carrying Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff. - Former FC Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who was juste hired by Cardiff, was on board of a missing plane that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands according to French police sources on January 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Nantes' football team Brazilian defender Fabio Da Silva leaves the FC Nantes training center of la Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, outside Nantes, on January 22, 2019 after the announcement of the vanishing of the plane carrying Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff. - Former FC Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who was juste hired by Cardiff, was on board of a missing plane that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands according to French police sources on January 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a camera at the entrance of the FC Nantes training center of la Joneliere after the announcement of the vanishing of the plane carrying Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff, on January 22, 2019 in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, outside Nantes. - Former FC Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who was juste hired by Cardiff, was on board of a missing plane that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands according to French police sources on January 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
French Gendarmes are in faction at the entrance of the FC Nantes training center of la Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, outside Nantes, on January 22, 2019 after the announcement of the vanishing of the plane carrying Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff. - Former FC Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who was juste hired by Cardiff, was on board of a missing plane that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands according to French police sources on January 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
French gendarmes are in faction in front of the entrance of the FC Nantes training center of la Joneliere in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, outside Nantes, on January 22, 2019 after the announcement of the vanishing of the plane carrying Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff. - Former FC Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who was juste hired by Cardiff, was on board of a missing plane that vanished from radar off Alderney in the Channel Islands according to French police sources on January 22, 2019. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Police said that three other possibilities were that Sala and the pilot had landed elsewhere but not made contact, they had been picked up by a passing ship, or the aircraft broke up on contact with water.

"Our search area is prioritized on the life raft option," Guernsey Police said on Twitter.

Rescue aircraft and boats had searched more than 1,000 square miles (2,590 square km) of sea for the single-engine Piper Malibu by midday on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Argentine-born forward joined struggling Cardiff City from FC Nantes last week for a club record fee of about 17 million euros ($19 million), after scoring 12 goals for the French club this season.

In a voice message left by Sala, published by Argentine newspaper Clarin, he said that it seemed as though the plane was "about to crash."

The plane had been cruising at 5,000 feet (1,525 m) when the pilot requested to descend to a lower altitude on passing Guernsey. It lost radar contact at 2,300 feet (700 m), the police said.

Police said that they had seen a number of floating objects in the water on Tuesday, but had been unable to determine whether they were from the missing aircraft.

The police said they had found no signs of those on board, and that if the aircraft landed on water, the chances of survival were slim. 

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