Rescue workers have suspended the search for the missing plane carrying footballer Emiliano Sala having found “no trace” of the aircraft, police said.

Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson have been missing since their plane disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Monday night.

Search efforts continued on Wednesday after an audio recording apparently sent by Sala from the aircraft was shared on Argentinian media.

The footballer can be heard saying he is “scared” and aboard a plane that “seems like it is falling to pieces”.

Rough sea conditions are reducing the likelihood of survivors being found, one rescue leader said.

John Fitzgerald, chief officer of Channel Islands Air Search, said: “I can’t see how anybody could survive in such temperatures for that length of time.

Search for missing plane(PA Graphics)

“Looking at the sea conditions today it’s very rough out there, there’s a good strong wind blowing, with sea conditions [that] are pretty horrendous.”

Humberside Police confirmed on Wednesday evening that Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe, was the pilot of the plane.

A force spokesman said: “We can confirm that North Lincolnshire man David Ibbotson is believed to be the pilot of the light aircraft that went missing near Guernsey on Monday 21 January.

“Specially trained officers are supporting Mr Ibbotson’s family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time.”

Mr Ibbotson was associated with skydiving company Target Skysports, based in Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire.

Guernsey Police said rescue workers had launched three planes and one helicopter in a bid to find the missing plane.

The aircraft scanned 280 sq miles of a target area after reviewing tidal and weather information, while coastal areas around Alderney and off-lying rocks and islands were also searched.

But on Wednesday evening, police said: “After an intensive search using multiple aircraft and one lifeboat over the last nine hours, we have found no trace of the missing plane.

“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.

Police said rescue workers were prioritising the possibility that the plane landed on water and its life raft was used.

France Missing Plane SalaEmiliano Sala gives a thumbs up during a match against PSG in Nantes (David Vincent/AP)

Satellite imagery and mobile phone data were also reviewed to aid the search.

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu left Nantes in France at 7.15pm for Cardiff, and after requesting to descend, lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

The AAIB said the plane’s registration number was N264DB and that it was investigating the loss of the plane while working closely with authorities in the US, France and Argentina.

The plane’s registered owner is Suffolk-based company Southern Aircraft Consultancy (SAC), according to the US Federal Aviation Administration.

A SAC spokesman confirmed the company was a trustee for the plane for “registration purposes only” and it was cooperating with authorities.

“We learnt of the missing aircraft yesterday and are deeply concerned for those who are missing. Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time,” he added on behalf of Trustors.

People lay flowers and tributes outside Cardiff City Football Club People lay flowers and tributes outside Cardiff City Football Club (Ben Birchall/PA)

Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman told the BBC it had not booked Sala’s flight and the footballer “made his own arrangements”.

Sala was signed by Premier League strugglers Cardiff from FC Nantes for a club record £15 million and was due to start training on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old posted a picture with his former Nantes team-mates on Monday captioned “the last goodbye” before flying to Wales.

Emiliano Sala DisappearanceScreengrab taken from the Twitter account of Emiliano Sala after signing a three-year-deal for Cardiff City from Nantes (Emiliano Sala/PA)

Cardiff’s chief executive Ken Choo said the club was “shocked” and distressed” by the plane’s disappearance.

A rally was held in Nantes city centre on Tuesday night where fans sang songs and laid tributes.

Clubs and players across the world took to social media to send their thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Sala and the pilot.