Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM GOMIS / AFP)
Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM GOMIS / AFP)

Search back on after incredible response

A private search for Emiliano Sala has been launched after Lionel Messi and a host of football stars helped raise more than half a million dollars fir a rescue mission.

The athlete's agency Sport Cover confirmed two Guernsey-based fishing vessels are working in the area where the plane carrying the Argentinian star to his new English Premier League club last had radar contact.

The private search comes after authorities officially called off their own hunt for Sala, 28, and his British pilot Dave Ibbotson last week.

The new hunt is being supported by a huge fundraising effort that has seen Lionel Messi and a host of football stars raise $512,656 at the time of publication.

A statement on the GoFundMe page read: "The call for funds launched late Friday afternoon allowed the relatives of Emiliano Sala, via a specialised organisation, to resume research in the Channel early Saturday morning. Two boats conduct the operations."

LIONEL MESSI BACKS CAMPAIGN

Large areas of land and sea had been scoured by search and rescue teams after the Argentine ace's small private plane went missing over the Channel last Monday.

He was flying from Nantes, western France, to Cardiff after making a club-record $27 million transfer to the Premier League strugglers.

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan, Nantes manager Vahid Halilhodzic, Leicester City winger Demarai Gray and Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso have all contributed to the donation page.

It was set up by Sala's French football agency, Sport Cover, while a petition launched in France has gathered more than 80,000 signatures.

Argentine legends Messi and Diego Maradona are among those who have made public pleas for the search to be restarted.

The country's president Mauricio Macri also 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.

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

Guernsey's harbour master explained a "difficult" decision was made to call off the mission, saying the chances of survival were "extremely remote".

Sala's sister Romina made a heartfelt plea for the search to start up again as she broke down in tears outside Cardiff City's stadium.

"We really are thankful for the support of all the players in the way they have said that we should not stop our efforts," she told reporters

"We will find a way to restart the search. We will find Emiliano and the pilot. He is a fighter and we feel he is still out there.

"He has been travelling from the age of 16. We know he is somewhere - we want to bring him back.

"We've been in touch with people who are investigating. We are trying to best to find Emiliano because we are sure he is still here. We are very humbled by the way people are helping."

FLIGHT WAS DOOMED

Sala's agent Mark McKay is reported to have booked part-time pilot Mr Ibbotson to fly the plane to and from Nantes after the star pleaded to get back in time to train with his new teammates.

The plane was a 25-year-old Piper Malibu air craft with a single engine.

Cardiff chiefs said Sala had declined the club's offer to take a commercial flight from Nantes after saying goodbye to teammates at the French club.

Sala sent audio messages about the "bumpy ride" he was having as the plane hit bad weather near Guernsey.

It also emerged that his flight was delayed for 10 hours - forcing the plane to fly through the night.

Sala was flying to south Wales after saying goodbye to teammates at FC Nantes on Monday, where he earned a transfer to the Premier League with 13 goals in 18 games in Ligue 1 this season.

The plane left Nantes at around 7.15pm on Monday, having originally been scheduled to depart on Monday morning.

The aircraft got into difficulties while crossing the English Channel and vanished at around 8.30pm.

This article was originally published by The Sun and reproduced with permission

News Corp Australia


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