Saturday, February 23, 2013

Plane wreckage may be linked to fashion icon

Daniel Dal Zennaro / EPA, file

Italian fashion scion Vittorio Missoni is shown in a 2009 photo from Milan, Italy. The chief of the Missoni fashion house has been missing along with five others since Jan. 4, when his plane vanished after taking off from the Los Roques resort area en route to Caracas.

By John Newland, Staff Writer, NBC News

Wreckage that may be remains of the missing plane carrying Italian fashion executive Vittorio Missoni and five others has been found off the coast of Venezuela, an Italian official said Friday.

"I can confirm that the wreckage of an airplane has been found off the coast, but we don't know yet whether this was the same airplane that was carrying Mr. Missoni," an Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman said Venezuelan authorities were still compiling their report on the finding as of 7:15 a.m. ET Friday, and Italian officials were waiting for more information.

The plane carrying the 58-year-old head of the major fashion house and his family and friends has been missing since Jan. 4, when it took off from the resort area of Los Roques on its way to the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

Venezuelan Government / AP, file

Venezuela National Civil Aviation Institute search Jan. 9 for a plane that went missing near Los Roques, Venezuela, five days earlier carrying Vittorio Missoni, his wife and four others. Wreckage has been found, but it was unclear early Friday whether it was that of the Missoni's plane.

Luggage belonging to Missoni was found on the tiny island of Curacao, off the Venezuelan coast, about two weeks ago, The Associated Press reported last week.

Seven minutes after the plane took off, the pilot reported that he was at 5,000 feet and 10 nautical miles from the Los Roques airport, the Italian flight safety agency told The Associated Press. The last radar readings showed the aircraft accelerating at 5,400 feet before it quickly lost altitude and speed, veering to the right until it disappeared from the radar.

The Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman said more information about the wreckage was being eagerly awaited in Italy, where the Missoni name is iconic.

"We got the news early this morning from our embassy there [in Venezuela]," he said. "The investigations are ongoing. We are checking whether this was the plane."

In addition to Missoni and his wife, the plane was carrying a Venezuelan couple and two Venezuelan crew members, officials have said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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