Almost six months after it vanished off Venezuela's coast, the small plane carrying the scion of Italy's Missoni fashion family, his wife and four other people was discovered underwater on Thursday, officials said.
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said authorities would now search for the bodies of the two pilots and four passengers who had left the Los Roques islands on January 4 en route to Caracas.
Jaua said the Italian government provided technology to search for the missing plane.
The plane was carrying a pilot, a co-pilot, 58-year-old Vittorio Missoni -- the son of the eponymous fashion label's founder Ottavio Missoni -- his wife Maurizia Castiglioni and another Italian couple when it disappeared.
Vittorio Missoni was the fashion house's marketing director.
"The Islander-type YV2615 airplane that covered the Los Roques-Maiquetia (Caracas airport) route on January 4, 2013, has been found," Interior Ministry spokesman Jorge Galindo wrote on Twitter.
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said the airplane was 76 meters (250 feet) under water, north of the Caribbean archipelago of Los Roques.
Italy's air safety agency Ansv said in January that the plane's 72-year-old Venezuelan pilot, German Merchan, was authorized to fly.
A similar disappearance took place exactly five years ago, on January 4, 2008.
At the time, a plane carrying 14 people, including eight Italians, went missing in the same area as it flew from Caracas to Los Roques. That wreckage was finally found on June 19.
Los Roques is an archipelago of 350 islands that attracts tourists from all over the world with its deep turquoise sea and the large number of exotic species that live there.
Ottavio Missoni, a knitwear innovator whose distinctive colorful zigzag designs became a global fashion empire, died aged 92 on May 9 in his home and company headquarters in the northern Italian town of Sumirago.
Italian media quoted people close to the patriarch as saying that he had not been himself since his son's disappearance, and had refused to talk about it.
The fashion house was founded in 1953 by Ottavio Missoni and his wife Rosita Jelmini and their designs have graced the rich and famous from Jackie Kennedy to the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
It now sells ready-to-wear attire for men, women and children, as well as perfume.
Ottavio Missoni continued to work at the company until his death, although he had handed managerial responsibility to his two sons and daughter.
His other son, Luca, is technical director and his daughter Angela is the designer.
Missoni has also created auto interiors for Mazda cars, as well as interiors for two luxury hotels, in collaboration with the Rezidor Hotel Group.
© 2013 AFP
Date: Jun 27, 2013