THE son of one of Italy's most celebrated fashion designer families is missing after his small aircraft disappeared in Venezuela. Vittorio Missoni, 58, was enjoying a new year break with his wife and friends on the palm-fringed islands of Los Roques when their plane lost contact.
The aircraft was last heard of about 10 miles south of the archipelago, while it was flying over the sea.
The flight on Friday was supposed to land at Simon Bolivar international airport, about 12 miles from Caracas, but never arrived. It took off from Los Roques around 11am and went off the radar half an hour later.
Mr Missoni was on the plane with his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, another Italian couple and two Venezuelan crew members.
Members of the Missoni clan and relatives of the other couple who were on the holiday were last night still hoping that the plane may have been diverted.
The Missoni family were gathering in their hometown of Sumirago, 30 miles north of Milan. The renowned Missoni fashion house was founded by Mr Missoni's parents, Ottavio and Rosita.
Italian foreign ministry officials said they were working with Venezuelan authorities to conduct both air and sea searches for the plane.
According to Nestor Reverol, Venezuela's justice and interior minister, the 1968 British twin-engine Britten-Norman BN-2 vanished on Friday while flying from Los Roques, where the Missoni couple had been spending the Christmas and new year at a resort.
The plane was operated by the privately owned Albatros Airlines, and has a capacity for 10 people.
Mr Missoni, marketing director of the fashion company, had been on a fishing trip with his wife and Italian businessman Guido Foresti and his wife, Elda Scalvenzi.
The string of 350 islands is known for pristine beaches, diving and coral reefs, and has attracted famous faces such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Shakira and Harrison Ford.