ROME (AP) — Rescue crews used boats and aircraft on Saturday to search for a small plane that disappeared in Venezuela carrying the CEO of Italy's iconic Missoni fashion house and five other people.
But 24 hours after the BN-2 Islander aircraft disappeared from radar screens on its short flight from Venzuela's coastal resort island of Los Roques, 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 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.
The La Repubbica.it, website of the Rome newspaper said Venezuelan aircraft, motorboats and helicopters took off at dawn Saturday to resume the search for the missing plane, which had been suspended on Friday night. The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from Rome, said a specialized ocean-searching naval vessel also was being deployed.
Vittorio Missoni is the eldest son of the company's founder, Ottavio, who at 91 still follows the business.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that Ottavio and his wife Rosita were at their home in Italy, along with their daughter Angela, a chief fashion designer with the company, waiting for information about the search. Rosita Missoni designs housewears, and Angela's daughter, Margherita, has been infusing the classic designs with fresh appeal.
The Missoni house, with its trademark zigzag and other geometric patterns in sweaters, scarves and other knitwear, is one of Italy's most famous fashion brands abroad.
Vittorio Missoni has played a key role in marketing the Missoni family creations in Asia, especially in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea as general director of marketing for Missoni SpA. He also spearheaded a push for the company's products in the United States and France. His efforts to expand the brand abroad led Missoni to be dubbed the company's "ambassador."
On Friday, Venezuela's Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the plane was declared missing hours after taking 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.
Vittorio Missoni has been described as an active sportsman and lover of the outdoors. He and his wife and their friends from northern Italy were scheduled to fly back to Italy on Friday, but their internal flight never made it to Caracas.
La Repubblica said the plane disappeared off radar screens shortly after takeoff from Los Roques on what was to been a 90-mile (140-kilometer) flight to the mainland. The Missoni brand is scheduled to display its latest menswear creations on the Milan runways in a fashion show later this month.
On Jan. 4, 2008, another plane returning to the Venezuelan mainland from Los Roques disappeared with 14 people aboard, including eight Italians. The body of the plane's Venezuelan co-pilot later washed ashore, but despite a search lasting weeks no other victims or the wreckage were found.
In 2009, a small plane returning from Los Roques with nine people aboard plunged into the Caribbean Sea, but all survived.
Ian James contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela.
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