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LATIN AMERICA

Search for Missoni CEO goes on in the Caribbean

Search teams continue to look for the plane that disappeared last Friday north of Venezuela

Mábel Galaz
Italian fashion house CEO Vittorio Missoni (r) poses with his wife Maurizia Castiglioni (l) in Milan, Italy, in 2005.
Italian fashion house CEO Vittorio Missoni (r) poses with his wife Maurizia Castiglioni (l) in Milan, Italy, in 2005.AP

The Italian fashion house Missoni believes that its CEO is still alive after a plane he and his wife were traveling in went missing north of Venezuela, on its way to the popular tropical island destination of Los Roques.

Search teams organized by both the Venezuelan and Italian governments on Wednesday continued to comb the waters looking for the twin-engine BN-2 Islander, which disappeared on Friday without a trace.

Vittorio Missoni, 58, his wife Maurizia Castiglioni and four others were headed for a vacation on the tiny Venezuelan archipelago, which is three hours from the international airport outside of Caracas.

Missoni is the CEO of the wealthy fashion house, which is based in Milan.

Nearly 400 people are involved in the search.

His sister, Angela Missoni, issued a statement on Sunday, thanking the Venezuelan authorities for their help in the search. "We are in contact with the Italian Foreign Ministry and the Rome federal police to receive reports on my brother's disappearance and coordinate all information and offers of help from all parts of the world."

Nearly 400 people are involved in the search.

Italy's ambassador to Venezuela, Paolo Serpi, is helping coordinate the operation.

One theory is that the plane may have been hijacked, but a spokesman at the Venezuelan Humboldt Rescue Organization ruled out that possibility. "What occurred doesn't fit the pattern of a typical hijacking," said Enrique Martín.

The family is pinning its hopes on a message from the missing man's cellphone that was sent to Missoni's brother on Sunday. That has led the family to think he may have been kidnapped, although no one has yet contacted them about a ransom.

Martín believes that the plane may have suffered mechanical difficulties. But because of the choppy water conditions, the wreckage may have been washed away, he said.

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