Rescuers have no idea how a plane carrying a new Premier League signing disappeared from the radar above the English Channel on Monday night.
Emiliano Sala, 28, signed for Cardiff City for a reported £15 million ($19.3 million) from French club Nantes on Saturday. The striker was returning to his new club after saying farewell to his former team-mates in France.
France’s civil aviation authority confirmed Cardiff City’s new signing Emiliano Sala was on board the plane when it went missing having passed over Guernsey on its way to the Welsh capital from Nantes.
More than 1,100sq miles have been combed by five aircraft and two lifeboats, and with no trace of the plane, rescuers have been forced to concede they are not expecting any survivors.
Sala’s father, Horacio, told Argentine TV channel C5N, he heard the news from a friend.
“I didn’t know anything. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I’m desperate. I hope everything goes well.”
Meanwhile, John Fitzgerald, chief officer of the Channel Islands Air Search, said the probability of finding anyone alive from the missing aircraft was “reducing very rapidly”.
“I think with the sea temperatures and the sea conditions the chances of finding anybody alive are reducing all the time,” he said.
“The sea temperatures are very, very cold and just sap the core temperature of anybody in the water very, very quickly.”
The plane left Nantes in north west France at 19:15 and had been flying at 5,000ft when it contacted Jersey air traffic control requesting descent, Guernsey Police said.
The plane lost contact while at 2,300ft and disappeared off radar near the Casquets lighthouse, infamous among mariners as the site of many shipwrecks, eight miles (13km) north-west of Alderney.
The force added UK authorities have been calling airfields on the south coast to see if it landed there but there had been no confirmations and a decision about an overnight search would be made at sunset.