-The Cardiff City striker is still missing after the small private plane he was travelling in went missing on Monday night; Search ‘recovery not rescue’ operation, says Channel Islands Air Search.
Emiliano Sala left a WhatsApp voice message suggesting his plane “feels like it’s falling to pieces”, just hours before it went missing over the English Channel.
The Cardiff City striker, who had signed for a club record £15m from Nantes, is feared dead after his plane went missing while en route to the Welsh capital.
Rescuers have scoured more than 1000 square miles of sea to find the single-engined Piper Malibu aircraft and the Channel Islands Air Search has said it is now a recovery rather than a rescue operation.
The recording, published by Argentine media outlet Ole, appears to detail a calm sounding Sala talking about his frantic final day in France saying goodbye to his Nantes team-mates.
“Hello my brothers, how are you? Boy I’m tired,” he says in his message. “I was here in Nantes taking care of things, things, things, things, things.
“And it never stops, it never stops. Anyway guys I’m up in this plane and it feels like its falling to pieces. and I’m going to Cardiff, crazy, and we start tomorrow.
“Training in the afternoon guys, with my new club. Let’s see what happens.
“So how’s it all going with you boys, all good? If in an hour and a half you haven’t heard from me, I don’t know if they are going to send someone to look for me because they won’t find me, but you will know. Man, I’m scared!”
The light aircraft had been flying at 5000 feet but requested to land while passing Guernsey, and was last detected at 2,300 feet when it lost contact with Jersey air traffic controllers.
Search teams are focusing their efforts around an area where they saw a “number of floating objects” in the water on Tuesday.
John Fitzgerald, chief officer of Channel Islands Air Search, told Sky Sports News: “I think very much it is that sort of recovery stage now,” said chief officer John Fitzgerald.
“It’s trying to find parts of the aircraft, whatever is floating around on the surface.”
Following the incident, Cardiff City cancelled training on Tuesday, which was due to be Sala’s first day with his new team-mates.
Nantes supporters gathered for a vigil in the centre of the city on Tuesday night and laid yellow tulips and other tributes in front of the fountain at the Place Royale.