27/01/2019 18:42 GMT

Emiliano Sala's Family ‘Still Have Some Hope’ Of Finding Footballer

Relatives arrive in Guernsey after official search called off last week.

PA Ready News UK

The family of Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala are said to still have some hope almost a week after the plane he was in went missing over the English Channel.

Relatives and friends of the Argentinian striker arrived in Guernsey on Sunday, including Sala’s sister and mother.

American-born marine scientist and oceanographer David Mearns, based in south-east England, is leading the private search on behalf of Sala’s family around the Channel Islands.

“This is a family that has come from Argentina with this huge shock out of nowhere and is struggling with very, very few answers about an unexplained loss,” Mearns said, quoted by the BBC.

“They’re looking at this as a missing person, a missing plane and until they are satisfied that’s the mode that we are in.”

Mearns added: “As you know, locally the search was terminated on Thursday and that was what triggered this private search. Today, even as an expert, my frame of thinking is alongside with the family’s.

“That’s what I’m trying to do, but we’re trying to give them the best advice that we possibly can. You have to appreciate they don’t know the environment, they don’t know the geography.”

The Piper PA-46 Malibu in which Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were travelling disappeared off the radar on Monday and an official search operation was called off on Thursday.

Pleas for the search to resume have come from the 28-year-old player’s family, Argentinian football stars Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Sergio Aguero, and the country’s president Mauricio Macri.

Donations from footballers including Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan have helped a GoFundMe page raising money for a private search surpass the 300,000 euro (£259,000) target.

An update on the site when the target was reached said Sala’s family wanted to thank people for their donations.