The Venezuelan authorities have dismissed reports that missing Vittorio Missoni may have been kidnapped.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry yesterday clarified that they were not treating the case as a possible kidnapping, despite the fact that the plane the fashion executive was travelling on went missing in a region synonymous with drug smuggling, reports WWD.
Angela Missoni, Vittorio's sister and the creative director of the family brand, has also released another statement in which she says the entire Missoni family have been "moved by the affection and help that we have had from the whole world and thankful to the Authorities for their tireless search and rescue efforts."
"I am now in Rome and in direct contact with the Italian Foreign Ministry and the State Police to report the disappearance of my brother while also co-ordinating all information and offers of aid that we have received globally," she continued, adding that her other brother, Luca, who is a pilot, is now in Venezuela helping with the flight search.
It is not known how long the search, which currently involves over 385 people, will continue, but the Missoni family are adamant that they "are full of hope" and "will not give up."
Meanwhile, Italian newspaper La Stampa has reported that Venezuelan pilot Enrique Rada, who was flying a plane nearby at the time of the disappearance, saw the aircraft flying into "an aggregation of clouds" and believes the plane may have been hit by a bolt of lightning.
Missoni was returning from a holiday on the Venezuelan island of Los Rocques with his life partner Maurizia Castiglioni and two friends when their twin-engined Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander plane went missing on January 4. Two crew members are also missing.
By Bibby Sowray, Telegraph.co.uk