Emiliano Sala's sister Romina at Cardiff City Stadium

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Romina Sala says her family believes both Emiliano and the pilot are alive

The family of missing footballer Emiliano Sala has thanked fundraisers after £280,000 was donated to continue the search for him.

The £15m Cardiff City striker was on a flight with pilot David Ibbotson, which disappeared over the English Channel on Monday evening.

The Sala family who arrived Guernsey on Sunday, thanked donors for their “exceptional generosity”.

Two boats hired using the money resumed the search on Saturday.

Sala’s mother Mercedes and sister Romina arrived on Guernsey on Sunday afternoon, and were greeted by chief of police David Mearns, who is leading the private search, and the harbourmaster.

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Sala’s mother, Mercedes, has arrived at Guernsey airport after flying from Bristol

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Getty Images

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Tributes have been left outside the Cardiff City Stadium

High-profile donors to the GoFundMe page include France and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, former West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet and Leicester City winger Demarai Gray.

More than 4,000 people have donated to the page.

The initial target of 150,000 euros (£130,000) was met within 24 hours and two private search vessels began to scour the sea again on Saturday.

In a message from the family published on the fundraising website, they said the tragedy goes “far beyond football” and the money would be used “exclusively for research”.

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@CardiffCityFCW/ Twitter

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Cardiff City’s women team paid tribute to Sala and Mr Ibbotson

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Getty Images/David Ibbotson

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Emiliano Sala (left) was on board a plane being flown by pilot David Ibbotson (right)

A decision was made by authorities to stop looking for the Piper Malibu plane carrying the Argentine and Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, on Thursday after three days of searching land and sea around the islands of Guernsey and Alderney.

Three planes and five helicopters racked up 80 hours combined flying time looking for the aircraft, alongside two lifeboats and passing ships.

The fund was set up on Friday by Paris-based sports agency Sport Cover, which lists Sala as one of its clients.

Guernsey harbourmaster David Barker said on Thursday the chances of survival were “extremely remote”.

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Emiliano Sala was on board a plane bound for Cardiff from Nantes when it disappeared

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