MILAN — As Venezuelan authorities stepped up their efforts to find the plane carrying Vittorio Missoni that went missing on Friday, they dismissed reports that the Italian fashion executive may have been kidnapped.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the government is not working with the possibility of a kidnapping, although the area where the plane carrying Missoni and three others went missing in a region known for drug smuggling. The spokesman also said there is no official time limit for the search, even though there were reports that the government had to continue looking for at least the next four days.
On Monday, Vittorio Missoni’s sister Angela issued a statement saying, “I am in close contact with the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and currently in Rome for appointments and to report to the State Police the disappearance of my brother, while coordinating all the information and offers of aid that we have received from all over the world.”
She said her brother Luca is in Venezuela and is actively involved in the search. “He is a pilot and he is also flying over the area now,” she said.
The company’s chief executive officer Alberto Piantoni has joined Luca Missoni and together they are in contact with the Venezuelan authorities, the Italian embassy and crisis unit.
“My children and our nephews and nieces are with my parents, united at this difficult time. We are all moved by the affection and help that we have had until now from all over the world and are extremely grateful to the authorities for their incessant rescue search and efforts,” said Angela Missoni.
She added that there are no further details but expressed certainty that the search will continue “at the same pace and exploring all possible avenues.”
Italy’s La Stampa newspaper on Monday reported that Venezuelan pilot Enrique Rada saw the aircraft carrying Vittorio Missoni entering “an aggregation of clouds.” Rada, who was flying a Cessna 402 nearby, said Missoni’s twin-engine Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander plane may have been “hit by a bolt of lightning.” Another pilot, Piergiorgio Serloni, is quoted as praising the 72-year-old pilot of the Islander as “one of the most expert and respected pilots in Los Roques,” and that “the information he received from the control tower, perhaps, may have been incorrect.”
La Stampa’s reporter in Caracas also spoke to the owner of La Gotera, the posada in Gran Roque, the main island of Los Roques, where Missoni was staying with his life partner, Maurizia Castiglioni. The hotel, a restructured fisherman’s house, is only reachable by plane and is made up of five rooms directly facing the sea, a passion of Missoni’s.
According to Nestor Reverol, Venezuela’s minister for justice and home affairs, the plane containing Missoni, Castiglioni, two longtime friends and two crew members took off from Los Roques on Friday headed to the Simon Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, about 13 miles from downtown Caracas, and sent out its last signals about 10 nautical miles from Los Roques before disappearing.
On Sunday afternoon, the Venezuelan government said more than 385 people among search and rescue crews, police and civil protection workers are involved in the search efforts. One small plane and two helicopters are being used.
While Missoni’s parents and founders of the company, Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, remain at home in Sumirago, Italy, with their daughter Angela, the third generation of the tight-knit clan is turning to Twitter to keep the attention high and to seek help from the digital community.
On Sunday, Vittorio Missoni’s eldest son, Ottavio Junior, sent out a message reading “Please help us find my father!” The tweet features a link to vogue.it, where the editorial team posted a message asking those in Venezuela with any information to contact the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by calling the crisis unit or e-mailing the ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angela Missoni’s daughter, Margherita Maccapani, is also using the popular social network to tweet articles regarding her uncle, while on Sunday night, Jennifer Missoni, daughter of Luca, wrote: “We pray. We believe. We won’t stop until we #findvittoriomissoni!!!!!”