A small plane that disappeared in January off the coast of Venezuela with six people aboard, including the heir of Italy's Missoni fashion imperium, has been found, officials have said.

Authorities would now search the wreckage for the bodies of the two pilots and four passengers who had left Los Roques islands on January 4 en route to Caracas, Elias Jaua, Venezuela's Foreign Minister, said on Thursday.

Jaua said the Italian government provided technology to search for the missing plane.

The Islander-type YV2615 airplane was carrying 58-year-old Vittorio Missoni - the son of the eponymous fashion label's founder Ottavio Missoni - his wife Maurizia Castiglioni and another Italian couple when it vanished.

 

Vittorio Missoni was the fashion house's marketing director.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said the airplane was 76 metres under water, north of the Caribbean archipelago of Los Roques.

Italy's air safety agency Ansv said in January that the plane's 72-year-old Venezuelan pilot, German Merchan, was authorised to fly.

A similar disappearance took place exactly five years ago on January 4, 2008.

At the time, a plane carrying 14 people, including eight Italians, went missing in the same area as it flew from Caracas to Los Roques. That wreckage was finally found on June 19.

"Now we need to go ahead with the operation to refloat them and perhaps discover the remains of the people on board and give their families the possibility to give them a Christian burial," Jaua said.

Ottavio Missoni, a knitwear innovator whose distinctive colourful zigzag designs became a global fashion empire, died on May 9 in his home and company headquarters in the northern Italian town of Sumirago at the age of 92.

Italian media quoted people close to the patriarch as saying that he had not been himself since his son's disappearance, and had refused to talk about it.

The fashion house was founded in 1953 by Ottavio Missoni and his wife Rosita.