London – One of the rescuers searching for the missing plane carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala said on Tuesday they were “fearing the worst”.
Sala, 28, is feared dead after contact was lost with the aircraft taking him to Wales – where he had just become the record signing for Premier League club Cardiff City.
“Sadly we are fearing the worst…the sea temperature is so cold at the moment,” John Fitzgerald, Chief Officer of Channel Islands Air Search, told AFP.
“If it came down as an uncontrolled landing, the plane would’ve broken up, in which case there is no hope,” said Fitzgerald, whose volunteer-staffed company assists British and French coastguards.
French civil aviation authorities confirmed that Sala was on board the light aircraft that went missing off the Channel Islands late Monday.
The only hope would be if the plane was able to perform a controlled ditch, said Fitzgerald.
“Ditching at sea is survivable. It makes it really difficult when it’s dark though… ideally you land between the waves.
“If it was a planned ditch, they had their life-raft ready… you can survive it,” he added.
However, rescue teams have now conducted several searches, and would “almost definitely” have seen the lights of any life rafts or mobile phones.
The search was still ongoing, as of Tuesday late afternoon, with coastguards to review their plans as darkness falls.