Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala was en route from Nantes to Cardiff City, after becoming the Welsh clubs' record signing, when the plane he was traveling in, vanished.
Emiliano Sala had just celebrated with his teammates at French club Nantes, posting a picture to his Instagram page with the caption "the last goodbye." He was about to embark on an exciting new journey as Cardiff City's record US$19M signing. Then tragedy struck.
28 year-old Sala had boarded a private light aircraft, dubbed the Piper Malibu, alongside the pilot, and one other passenger in Nantes, a city on the Loire River in the Upper Brittany region of western France. He had done so despite severe weather warnings about snow and ice issued across France.
Around 8:30pm GMT the plane lost signal near the Casquets lighthouse, off Alderney. It's feared the plane plunged into the Channel Islands. Guernsey police say there is "no trace" of the plane - the search continues.
Sala had last week joined the Welsh strugglers, becoming their record signing in the clubs' 120-year history; he had flown back to France to say goodbye to his teammates of four years. This morning, his new club released a statement saying, "We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night. And we are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala." F.C. Nantes have so far declined to comment.
His social media is littered with images of his radiant smile, posing with friends and family, including a recent one with his mother. In it he writes, "Thank you Mum."
But it's his final tweet that is perhaps the most poignant, and heartbreaking.
In it, he poses with his F.C. Nantes teammates, captioning it, "La ultima ❤️ ciao" - translated to "The last goodbye."
Earlier this year, Leciester City Chairman owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha perished when his private helicopter crashed outside the club's King Power stadium, mere seconds after taking off from the half-way line of the field.
Sala had scored 12 league goals in 19 appearances for Nantes in France's Ligue 1 this season before agreeing to join Cardiff.
French media reported that the French federation has postponed Nantes's French Cup last-32 game against Entente Sannois-Saint Gratien from Wednesday to Sunday.
According to the Sun newspaper, HM Coastguard said the disappearance was not in the UK search and rescue area but it had sent two helicopters to help.
"HM Coastguard are currently assisting Guernsey Coastguard with a search for a light aircraft off Alderney in the Channel Islands," a spokeswoman said.
"HM Coastguard helicopters from Solent and Newquay have been helping to search overnight ... with nothing found."