The search for a plane carrying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and a pilot is now a recovery operation, according to the Channel Islands Air Search.

Sala and his pilot, named locally as Dave Ibbotson, have been missing since their plane disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Monday night.

In a statement this evening Guernsey Police said that after an intensive nine hour search using multiple aircraft and one lifeboat, they had found no trace of the missing plane. 

They said: "With the light now fading, the search will shortly be suspended for the night.

"A decision about whether to recommence will be taken early tomorrow morning."

The search operation has targeted an area of 280 square miles around Alderney using multiple aircraft from the Channel Islands, France and the UK.

Asked if that operation was now more about recovery than rescue, Channel Islands Air Search chief officer John Fitzgerald told Sky Sports News:  "I think it is very much that sort of recovery stage now.

"I think it's more trying to work out what went on with the aircraft, trying to find parts of the aircraft, whatever is floating around on the surface."

In an update earlier this afternoon, Guernsey Police said "the search is ongoing and a decision whether to continue will be taken later today".

The search, which was halted at 5pm yesterday, had begun once again at 7.30am this morning.

Guernsey Police confirmed they are conducting the search based on four possibilities.

The update read: "We are searching based on four possibilities:

1. They have landed elsewhere but not made contact.

"2. They landed on water, have been picked up by a passing ship but not made contact.

"3. They landed on water and made it into the life raft we know was on board.

"4. The aircraft broke up on contact with the water, leaving them in the sea.

"Our search area is prioritised on the life raft option. More updates as information becomes available."

The chances of finding Sala alive are "slim" if the plane landed on water, Guernsey Police had said in a statement yesterday afternoon.

Sala was aboard a light aircraft that disappeared from radar en route from Nantes to Cardiff on Monday evening.

The search resumed after a WhatsApp voice message emerged that Sala sent to friends while on the plane bound for Cardiff.

In the recording, the footballer says he is "getting scared" and "aboard a plane that seems like it is falling to pieces" as reported on

According to Guernsey Police, the Piper PA-46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft carrying two people, departed Nantes at 7.15pm for the Welsh capital and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

On passing Guernsey it "requested descent", but Jersey air traffic control lost contact with the plane while it was flying at 2,300ft.

After a 15-hour search from rescue teams, which covered an area totalling 1,155 square miles, Guernsey Police revealed that "a number of floating objects" were seen in the water, but they were "unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft".

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman, who is in France, told BBC Radio Wales: "We will not leave a single stone unturned until we have all the facts."

Asked if Cardiff's Premier League game at Arsenal next Tuesday would be postponed, Mr Dalman replied: "I would be surprised if there's a change to the schedule."

Mr Dalman also confirmed that the club had not booked the plane for the trip, adding that Sala had "made his own arrangements".

On Tuesday, Cardiff's executive director Ken Choo expressed his shock and distress at the news.

Sala, 28, was on his way back to Wales after saying goodbye to his Nantes team-mates on Monday night.

Choo described Sala as a "great person" and revealed he had been "so happy" to sign for Cardiff in a deal worth around £15m.

Sala had signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Welsh club after scoring 12 Ligue 1 goals in 19 appearances this season.

Cardiff have been in contact with Sala's family as they wait for news.

Daffodils and a Cardiff City scarf are left outside the club's stadium after news of the disappearance 

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri, who coached Sala at Nantes, added in a statement on Twitter: "I was devastated to hear the news. Emiliano is a wonderful character.

"He's a fighter. The world of football will be united in wishing for some positive news. I pray for Emiliano and his family."

French sports newspaper L'Equipe carried the search for Sala on its front page today with the headline: "The disappearance of a warrior".

Nantes' Coupe de France clash with third-tier Entente Sannois, scheduled for this evening, has been postponed until Sunday, while their Ligue 1 fixture against St Etienne - originally due to take place on Saturday - has been moved to Wednesday.

Sala, a native of Santa Fe in Argentina, played at youth level for Club Proyecto Crecer in his home country before being snapped up by French club Bordeaux in 2010.

Sala joined Nantes in 2015 for €1m and had scored 42 Ligue 1 goals in three and a half seasons