Luggage Washing Ashore Is Not a Good Sign for the Missoni Rescue Mission

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As over three weeks have gone by since Vittorio Missoni's plane went missing, it's probably safe to say that most people have given up hope of finding the Italian fashion legend alive. Whatever hope remained was probably dashed on Tuesday, when news emerged that a piece of luggage belonging to one of the plane's Italian passengers washed ashore on the Dutch island of Curaçao, about 200 miles from the resort where Missoni's plane took off. A German tourist found the suitcase on a beach and, according to the Associated Press, "contacted the owner of the bag in Italy, who in turn called police in Curacao." It's unclear if the owner was on the plane or if it was just his bag. Common sense suggests the latter. However, despite all the bad news, the Missoni family remains hopeful.

So this is sad. Authorities haven't completely called off the search for Missoni, three Italian tourists and a crew of two, but they're directing most of their efforts at this point towards a deep water search for what might be left of the plane. A special ship is supposed to arrive in February to help with that effort. In the meantime, the Missoni family insists that something is amiss. "A plane cannot vanish in this way, on a short route, without leaving any trace," Missoni's 28-year-old son Ottavio said about a week after the accident. "I remain convinced that the least plausible reason is that they crashed into the water."

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Indeed, there are some strange discrepancies in the straightforward narrative that the plane simply crashed into the Caribbean. One of the passenger's cell phones, for instance, sent a message over two days after the plane disappeared shortly after takeoff on January 4. Later, calls placed to the phone indicated that it was on and in range of a tower. Among other clues, this led the Missoni family to believe that Vittorio, the CEO of the Missoni fashion house, had been kidnapped, probably by drug-runners. Then again, since the pilot of the plane had an expired medical certificate and the charter company wasn't licensed to fly this particular route, there are also plenty of clues that something went wrong in the air.

The Missoni family reiterated their commitment to find Vittorio as recently as last week and say they'll do so "without neglecting any possibility." Sure, it's possible that somebody simply threw the luggage that washed up in Curaçao into the sea. It's also possible that some dramatic, insanely well executed clandestine kidnapping mission took place. It's also possible that the plane simply disappeared, and we'll never find it again. This happens from time-to-time in that part of the world.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.