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Soccer star left text, voice messages before plane disappeared

By Clyde Hughes
Soccer star left text, voice messages before plane disappeared
A vigil is held in Nantes, France, Tuesday for missing soccer star Emiliano Sala. Photo by Eddy Lemaistre/EPA-EFE

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Rescuers from Britain and France have joined the search for a missing plane carrying Argentine soccer star Emiliano Sala, which disappeared over the Channel Islands.

The single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu disappeared off Alderney Monday night. Sala, a native of Argentina, was flying from France to join his new team in Britain.

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Rescuers are focusing the search near the Channel Islands, off the northwestern coast of France.

Argentinian newspaper Ole reported Sala left a voice message while aboard the flight, saying the condition of the airplane concerned him.

"I'm here on a plane that looks like it's about to fall apart," he said.

"Let's see what happens. ... If in an hour and-a-half you have no news from me, I don't know if they are going to send someone to look for me because they cannot find me."

Sala, 28, also sent text messages to friends, saying the plane was making "weird noises." A short time later, the aircraft disappeared from radar at about 2,300 feet after the pilot requested permission to land in Guernsey, an island in the English Channel.

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"There are currently three planes and one helicopter in the air," Guernsey Police said Wednesday in a report by The Independent. "We are also reviewing satellite imagery and mobile phone data to see if they can be of any assistance in the search. So far today nothing spotted can be attributed to the missing plane."

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