The search for missing footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson has been called off after rescuers failed to find their plane.
Cardiff City’s Argentine striker, 28, and Mr Ibbotson were on the aircraft that disappeared from radar on Monday. After three days, authorities made the decision to abandon the search. Guernsey Police tweeted at 15:15 GMT to say rescuers were “no longer actively searching” for the plane.
The statement, from harbourmaster Capt David Barker said the chances of survival “are extremely remote”. “We reviewed all the information available to us, as well as knowing what emergency equipment was on board, and have taken the difficult decision to end the search,” he added.
He told BBC News: “I understand Emiliano Sala’s family are not content with the decision to stop the search and I fully understand that. “I’m absolutely confident that we couldn’t have done any more.”
As the news was announced, Sala’s sister took part in a press conference in Cardiff. Capt Barker said that the depth of the sea where the plane had last contact was about 100m and it would remain a missing persons case for the police.
“Despite best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France…we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft the pilot or the passenger,” he added.
Sala became Cardiff City’s record signing on Saturday, joining from Ligue 1 club Nantes for a fee of £15m. He was travelling from Nantes when the plane vanished after returning to the French city to say a final farewell to his former teammates.
The single-engine plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, left Nantes, north-west France, at 19:15 on Monday and had been flying at 5,000ft (1,500m) over the Channel Islands when it disappeared off radar near the Casquets lighthouse, near to Alderney. It lost contact while at 2,300ft (700m) and disappeared off radar near the Casquets lighthouse, infamous among mariners as the site of many shipwrecks, eight miles (13km) north-west of Alderney.
Rescue crews have searched about 1,700sq m of land and sea in the Channel Islands in the past three days, covering Burhou, the Casquets, Alderney, the north coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula, north coast of Jersey and Sark.