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Before His Plane Vanished, Soccer Player's Message: I'm 'So Scared'

Officials are focusing search on possibility Emiliano Sala is on a life raft, but odds don't look good
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2019 5:33 AM CST
An FC Nantes soccer fan displays an old copy of a French soccer magazine featuring FC Nantes soccer player Emiliano Sala of Argentina during a tribute in Nantes, France, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/David Vincent)
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(Newser) – For 15 hours on Tuesday, rescuers searched for any sign of a plane that was carrying Cardiff City soccer player Emiliano Sala and one other, with no luck—and now local police are saying chances of the missing fliers' survival is "slim." That's per the BBC, which reports that Sala's plane, a single-turbine Piper Malibu, disappeared Monday evening after taking off from Nantes, France, on its way to the Welsh capital of Cardiff. The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers and fell off the radar over the English Channel. CNN reports that, per Guernsey Police, rescuers are working off of four scenarios: that the plane with the 28-year-old Argentine athlete landed somewhere but hasn't yet made contact; that it landed on water and was picked up by a ship that hasn't yet informed anyone; that the fliers were floating on a life raft somewhere after a water landing; or that the plane broke up upon hitting the water.

"Our search area is [prioritized] on the life raft option," police officials noted, per NBC News. However, although the search for the plane resumed Wednesday, the head of the Channel Islands Air Search team tells the BBC that he has "no hope" for Sala or the other flier, noting that "even the most fit person" could only survive a few hours in the water. Per Argentine media, via the BBC, Sala reportedly sent his family a WhatsApp voice message before the plane disappeared noting that "I'm on a plane that looks like it's going to fall apart" and that he was "so scared." Sala was heading from Nantes to Cardiff after signing a record $19.3 million deal over the weekend to leave the French team for the Cardiff Bluebirds. In his final tweet Monday, shortly before he was due to fly to Cardiff, Sala posted a picture of himself with the Nantes team, with the caption: "The last one, goodbye." (Read more soccer stories.)

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