'Difficult Decision' Made in Search for Soccer Star

'The chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 25, 2019 12:06 AM CST
Updated Jan 25, 2019 3:11 AM CST
Search for Missing Soccer Star Called Off
Flowers and tributes are placed outside Cardiff City Football Club, Wales, Wednesday Jan. 23, 2019.   (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

Sobbing after the active search for her brother was halted, the sister of Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala urged authorities Thursday not to give up trying to find the remains of his plane, which disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Monday evening. Authorities said the chances of survival are "extremely remote" for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson after a three-day air-and-sea operation, covering 1,700 square miles near the Channel Islands, failed to locate the aircraft or the two people on board, the AP reports. The plane was flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff, where the 28-year-old Sala was due to start playing for the Welsh capital's Premier League club.

"I know that they're alive and they're well, and they're looking for us," the player's sister, Romina Sala, said in Cardiff. "Please, please, I'm asking you—don't stop searching. They're alive." Sala spoke about 30 minutes after Guernsey harbor master Capt. David Barker announced they had "taken the difficult decision to end the search" while asking ships and aircraft to continue looking for parts of the light aircraft. "The chances of survival at this stage are extremely remote," Barker said. The plane was last known to be flying near Hurd's Deep, an underwater valley which has a depth of more than 300 feet. "Finding anything in that depth of water is going to be extremely difficult," Barker said. "But we can't say conclusively if the plane is on the seabed." (Before the plane disappeared, Sala sent relatives a message saying he was "so scared.")

(More soccer stories.)

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