WILLEMSTAD, Curacao – Police on the tiny island of Bonaire said Thursday that two pieces of luggage from a missing plane that was carrying the CEO of Italian fashion house Missoni has washed up on a local beach.
In Curacao, Bonaire police spokesman Hans Baltus confirmed that two bags found earlier this week on a rocky beach were from the missing plane carrying Vittorio Missoni, his wife and four others. Baltus declined to provide information about the nametags on the battered bags, citing an ongoing investigation.
However, Missoni family friend Claudio Verna in Italy said that authorities in Bonaire phoned him Tuesday to tell him that two bags were found that belonged to the missing CEO. He said the bags were discovered Tuesday by a local newspaper reporter on the tiny island off Venezuela.
Baltus said police were in contact with Verna as a family representative.
The BN-2 Islander plane carrying Missoni and the others vanished shortly after takeoff on Jan. 4 from Los Roques, a tiny archipelago that is a dependency of Venezuela. It was destined for Caracas, the South American nation's capital.
Late last month, a bag belonging to a tourist who missed that flight washed up in nearby Curacao, which lies some 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of the resort islands of Los Roques. It was the first sign of debris from the missing plane.
From Italy, Verna said the Missoni family and friends of the missing couple are still hoping that the plane did not plunge into the ocean.
"You cannot exclude that someone could launch bags in the sea. We are not in the condition now to exclude any other option," he said.
Verna said he will fly to Venezuela next week and try to advance plans to hire a boat to search for the missing plane.
Baltus said the two bags found in Bonaire are expected to be sent shortly to authorities in Venezuela.
Italy's air safety agency has said the pilot of the vanished plane had an expired medical fitness certificate and that the company operating the aircraft wasn't yet authorized to fly. However, the National Flight Safety Agency has said that neither factor is being blamed for the disappearance at this time.
Seven minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported that he was at 5,000 feet and 10 nautical miles from the Los Roques airport, according to the agency. The last radar readings showed the aircraft accelerating at 5,400 feet before it quickly lost altitude and speed, veering to the right until it disappeared from the radar.