Argentine president joins calls for Emiliano Sala search to be resumed

Argentine president joins calls for Emiliano Sala search to be resumed

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Argentina, Emiliano Sala, Cardiff City

Argentina’s president has added to pressure for rescuers to continue the search for the plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala.

Mauricio Macri has told his foreign minister to issue formal requests to Britain and France for search efforts to be resumed, according to a statement from the premier’s office on Friday.

The search for the Piper PA-46 Malibu carrying the Argentine striker, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson was called off on Thursday.

The aircraft disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Monday night.

In a statement, the president’s office said: “President Mauricio Macri instructed foreign minister Jorge Faurie to make a formal request to the governments of Great Britain and France to ask them to maintain the search efforts.”

Mr Faurie is expected to make the request to both nations’ embassies.

Sala’s sister Romina Sala has also urged rescuers to resume the search, as have Argentinian football stars Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Sergio Aguero.

The Sala family is also planning to organize a private search with hired divers, according to Argentinian media outlet Ole.

Donations from footballers including Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan helped a GoFundMe page raising money for the search to rapidly surpass £60,000.

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker said the decision to stop actively searching had been a “difficult” one, but the chances of survival after such a long period are “extremely remote”.

Mr Barker acknowledged the footballer’s family are “not content” with the decision but said he is “absolutely confident” no more could have been done.

Romina Sala, joined by her partner Juan Miaz and cousin Maria Sottini, viewed tributes outside Cardiff’s stadium on Friday.

Club chief executive Ken Choo said Sala’s mother and brother will soon join other family members in South Wales.

Mr Choo said the mood at the club is “sombre” and “flat”, but it is “fully supporting” the Sala family’s wishes to have information on the incident.

More than 60,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the search for the missing aircraft continues.

Mr Choo said the club has also informed authorities it wants the search restarted.

He reiterated the club had not organized Sala’s travel arrangements as it did not have “jurisdiction” over the new signing at the time of the flight.

He described Sala as a “humble man” and a “hero” who was “really looking forward… to joining Cardiff City”.

It could take six months to a year for investigators to collate information on what happened to the plane, Mr Choo claimed.

His comments came after it emerged accident investigators will examine whether the pilot had the correct license.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) opened a probe after the light aircraft disappeared from radar on Monday night.

“We are looking at all operational aspects of the flight, including licensing,” an AAIB spokesman said.

Mr Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, held a private pilot’s license and passed a medical exam as recently as November, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft was registered in the US, so fell under American regulations.

US law states private pilots cannot make a profit by carrying passengers.

The flight left Nantes in France for Cardiff at 7.15pm on Monday, and after requesting to descend, lost contact with Jersey air traffic control over the English Channel.

Cardiff City had signed Sala for a club record £15 million to bolster their attack and he was due to start training on Tuesday.

Rescue teams scanned around 1,700 square miles and examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery but found no trace of the aircraft.

Three planes and five helicopters racked up 80 hours’ combined flying time looking for the plane, working alongside two lifeboats and other passing ships.

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