Mon, Jan 07, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Plane carrying Missoni boss missing in Venezuela

AP, CARACAS

Vittorio Missoni, chief executive of Italian couturier Missoni, speaks during an interview in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 15, 2004.

Photo: Reuters

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

However, 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 Missoni, 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.

“We’re holding onto a glimmer of hope,” said Oswaldo Scalvenzi , a relative of Elda Scalvenzi, one of the friends aboard the flight.

“Until we can see the wreckage” hope will remain, Scalvenzi told Italian state television on Saturday night.

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

The twin-engine plane had enough fuel on board for a three-hour flight, said Francisco Paz Fleitas, the president of the civil aviation agency. Paz said the plane took off at 11:39am 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 did not 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 18km south of Los Roques,” the agency said in the statement.

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

Venezuelan Minister of the Interior 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.

Reverol on Friday said that two Venezuelan navy patrol boats were involved in the search and that a specialized oceanographic ship, the Guaicamacuto, also had been deployed.

Vittorio Missoni is the eldest son of the company’s founder, Ottavio, who at 91 still follows the business.

The Missoni fashion house, with its trademark zigzag and other geometric patterns in sweaters, scarves and other knitwear, is one of Italy’s most famous fashion brands.

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