Emiliano Sala's Sister Begs as Search Ends
24 January 2019, 17:30 | Updated: 24 January 2019, 17:37
An emotional Romina Sala, speaking in Spanish, told reporters in Cardiff that she feels her brother and his pilot are still alive.
Ms Sala travelled to Cardiff after a light aircraft carrying her brother and pilot Dave Ibbotson disappeared from radar on Monday night.
Guernsey's harbour master Captain David Barker earlier confirmed the "difficult" decision to end the search, saying the chances of survival were "extremely remote".
The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu left Nantes for Cardiff at 7.15pm on Monday, and after requesting to descend, lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.
Premier League strugglers Cardiff City signed 28-year-old Sala for a club record £15 million to bolster their attack and was due to start training on Tuesday.
Mr Barker acknowledged Sala's family were "not content" with the decision to stop actively searching but said he was "absolutely confident" no more could have been done and that UK coastguard protocols were followed.
He said he hoped the families of the missing pair found some comfort in the incident remaining open, despite searches ceasing.
"I can't begin to imagine how they must be feeling, but I do understand and I hope they will find some comfort from the fact that we are not closing this incident," Captain Barker said.
"Although we are stopping searching, the incident remains open and we are continuing with our broadcasts to ships and aircraft that are passing through the area and asking them to report anything that may be linked to the missing aircraft."
Mr Barker said the plane was last known to be near Hurd's Deep, a underwater valley north-west of the Channel Islands, which could make recovery of a wreckage very difficult.
Sala's WhatsApp recordings sent from the aircraft may be used in investigation into the events and the weather may have player a role in the crash, Mr Barker added.
Rescue teams have scanned around 1,700 square miles and examined mobile phone data and satellite imagery but found no trace of the aircraft.
Three planes and five helicopters racked up 80 hours combined flying time looking for the plane, working alongside two lifeboats and other passing ships.