A missing plane that crashed while carrying fashion director Vittorio Missoni has been found.
The discovery was announced on Twitter by the Venezuelan interior minister spokesman, Jorge Galindo, who said the plane had been found off the coast of Venezuela. He gave no further details on the exact location or condition of the plane.
Vittorio, 58, his wife Maurizia Castiglioni, another couple, a Venezuelan crew member, and the pilot were on board the plane when it crashed after take-off.
The group were flying out from the Los Roques islands in Venezuela, en route to the capital city of Caracas, when the plane crashed on 4 January.
Since then an extensive search had been carried out, and Vittorio and his companions had been presumed dead.
At the time of the disappearance, the fashion house released a statement saying, "Missoni confirms that Vittorio Missoni and his partner have been lost in Venezuela. The small airplane in which they were travelling has disappeared. This is the only information available at present."
Vittorio's younger brother, Luca, who is active in the family-run business, reportedly travelled to Venezuela to monitor search efforts shortly after.
Newspaper La Repubbica said that Venezuelan aircraft, motorboats and helicopters had taken off to resume the search for the missing plane. The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from Rome, said a specialized ocean-searching naval vessel was also being deployed.
Vittorio is the eldest son of the company's founders Ottavio and Rosita. He and his siblings are credited with transforming the fortunes of the Milan based fashion label started up by his parents in 1953.
As chief executive of Missoni SpA, he has expanded the Italian brand’s retail network and was behind the hugely successful collaboration with US retail giant Target in 2011 that served to raise the Italian group’s profile internationally.
Ottavio and Rosita created the company in the 1950s and spent two decades turning it into one of Italy's most famous fashion brands, becoming known for its trademark zigzag and other geometric patterns in jumpers, scarves and other knitwear.
The label's image began to flag in the 1980s, which was when the couple's children – Vittorio, Angela and Luca – stepped in. They took over the company in the 1990s and helped restore some of the brand's initial success. That success was further heightened when the Duchess of Cambridge wore a blue Missoni coat in 2012.