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Hope fades on finding missing Italian designer and five others after plane disappears

posted 11 Jan 2013, 12:57 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Jan 2013, 12:58 ]

A week after their small plane disappeared over the Caribbean, hope of finding missing Italian designer Vittorio Missoni and five others alive begins to fade.

LOS ROQUESVENEZUELA (JANUARY 11, 2013) (REUTERS) - Rescue workers on Friday (January 11) continued to search for signs of a small aircraft that was carrying Italian fashion executive Vittorio Missoni and five others when it went down off the island resort of Los Roques in Venezuela a week ago.

The small twin-engine aircraft carrying Missoni, 58, his wife Maurizia Castiglioni, another couple and two Venezuelan crew members went missing last Friday (January 4) after taking off from the archipelago off the coast of Venezuela.

Hope of finding survivors was beginning to wane on the islands after a week long search effort involving aircraft, helicopters and boats had turned up no signs of those missing.

"There are plane crashes everywhere. This is a reef, an archipelago, with flights coming and going all the time. They are small planes and as I understand there could be a fatal accident like could happen anywhere else in the world," said a tourist on the islands,Jorge Luis de Miguel Lopez.

The Caribbean archipelago of 75 corral keys and hundreds of islets and sandbars is a popular destination for high-end travellers who come to enjoy the pristine waters.

At just 156 kilometers (97 miles) north of Venezuelan coast Los Roques is easily accessible by both sea and air.

Despite the ongoing efforts of search and rescue teams, no sign of wreckage has turned up.

"That might be the oddest thing regarding this whole incident; that there is no evidence. There is no oil slick, nothing floating, no seat floating in the sea. This is the real mystery," de Miguel added.

Search and rescue teams have flown the presumed route of the missing plane and sent divers deep into the Caribbean Sea as the search intensified over the week.

Venezuelan officials have discounted the weather as a factor in the disappearance, saying the weather was clear when the plane took off.

Italian media reports have suggested that the group may have been kidnapped.

An Italian merchant who works on the islands, Guillermo Crusiani, said he had his doubts that any of the six people onboard would turn up alive.

"The chances of finding them alive, I think, are almost impossible because the plane went down in part of the sea outside the archipelago, outside the coral reef towards the coast. And the sea is really rough there. Rough seas with big waves and its really deep. I think it is unlikely they will find them alive. Maybe further out, but I think it is unlikely," Crusiani said.

Vittorio Missoni is the marketing director and oldest son of the founders of fashion house Missoni famous for its exuberantly coloured knits featuring bold stripes and zigzags.