Missoni scion on plane missing in Venezuela


By Ian James and Frances D’Emilio, AP

CARACAS, Venezuela — Rescue crews used boats and aircraft on Saturday to search for a small plane that disappeared off Venezuela carrying the CEO of Italy’s iconic Missoni fashion house and five other people.

But more than a day after the BN-2 Islander aircraft disappeared from radar screens on its short flight from the Venezuelan resort islands of Los Roques to Caracas, no sign of the plane had been found, officials said.

“We have no other news” about the plane carrying Vittorio Missoni, the head of the company; his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni; two of their Italian friends; and two Venezuelan crew members, said Paolo Marchetti, a Missoni SpA official. He spoke briefly to reporters as he left company headquarters in the northern Italian town of Sumirago on Saturday afternoon.

Missoni’s younger brother, Luca, who is active in the family-run business, was reportedly traveling to Venezuela on Saturday to monitor search efforts.

Search teams were using a plane and a helicopter, working together with the Venezuelan coast guard, Venezuela’s National Civil Aviation Institute said in a statement Saturday.

The twin-engine plane had enough fuel on board for a three-hour flight, said Francisco Paz Fleitas, president of the civil aviation agency. Paz said the plane took off at 11:39 a.m. on Friday and had been expected to arrive at Caracas’ Simon Bolivar International Airport 42 minutes later.

The civil aviation agency said the authorities declared an alert after the plane didn’t make contact with the control tower at the Caracas airport or with the tower in Los Roques.

“The last position registered in radar data and those supplied by a system on board the aircraft” was about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south of Los Roques, the agency said in the statement.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that Venezuelan aircraft, boats and helicopters took off at dawn Saturday to resume the search for the missing plane, which had been suspended on Friday night.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol announced that the plane was missing hours after it took off from Los Roques, a string of islands popular for scuba diving, white beaches and coral reefs, and where the Missonis and their friends were on vacation.