(ANSA) - Caracas, October 22 - The bodies of five out of six people in a party that included Italian fashion industrialist Vittorio Missoni have been recovered from an airplane that went missing off the coast of Venezuela in January, Caracas Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega said after a meeting with the families of the victims.
Ortega's announcement marks the first official confirmation regarding conflicting reports Thursday as to whether three or five bodies had been recovered from the plane found on the ocean floor.
Ortega explained that as the bodies had been found inside the airplane and all of the luggage aboard had been traced, so investigators are now certain that the wreck is the same plane that vanished last January 4 while flying north of the Los Roques archipelago.
The prosecutor said a new phase of the investigation had now begun.
Nineteen samples had been taken from the corpses to compare to blood relatives to confirm the bodies' identities through DNA testing.
Investigators are also probing into the cause of the accident.
On Thursday, ANSA was informed that bodies have been recovered of Missoni, his wife Maurizia Castiglioni, another Italian couple and of the co-pilot of the Islander yv2615u aircraft.
The body of the pilot, Germn Marchant, was reportedly not found.
The report was not confirmed by the Venezuelan authorities at the time.
The missing plane was found in June thanks to the technology an American oceanographic ship.
The group was travelling to Caracas after holiday on an island in the Los Roques Caribbean archipelago.
The Los Roques area is notorious for plane crashes.
In 2008 another small plane returning to the Venezuelan mainland from the archipelago disappeared with 14 people aboard, including eight Italians.
Vittorio Missoni was the eldest son of Ottavio Missoni, the founder of the company famous for its colourful zig-zag knitwear who died in May.
The operation to pull the ship out of the sea in order to establish whether the accident was the result of human error or a technical fault has reportedly started.