6 dead in small plane crash off Costa Rica

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Six people, including apparently the German businessman behind Gold’s Gym, were reportedly killed on Saturday after a small plane crashed in the Caribbean just off the Costa Rican coast.

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The five passengers are all believed to be German citizens, according to Security Minister Jorge Torres. The pilot of the plane was Swiss.

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Costa Rican authorities said pieces of the twin-engine turboprop plane were found in the water on Saturday, after the flight went missing on Friday.

A flight plan filed for the small charter plane listed Rainer Schaller as a passenger. A man of the same name runs international chains of fitness centers and gyms, including Gold’s Gym and McFit.

Martin Arias, Costa Rica’s deputy security minister, said no bodies had yet been found at the site, about 17 miles (28 kilometers) off the coast of Limon airport.


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“Parts have been found that indicate this is the plane,” Arias said. « So far, we haven’t found any dead or living bodies. »

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The plane was an Italian-made nine-seat Piaggio P180 Avanti, known for its distinctive profile.

The plane disappeared from radar as it headed for Limon, a seaside resort on the coast.

Security Minister Torres said the flight departed from Mexico.

« Around six o’clock in the afternoon, we received an alert about a flight from Mexico to Limon airport, carrying five German passengers, » Torres said. A search began immediately but was temporarily canceled due to bad weather.

Rainer Schaller made headlines in 2010 for his role as organizer of the techno festival Berlin Love Parade. A lightning strike at the event killed 21 people and injured more than 500. Authorities at the time said Schaller security failed to stop the flow of people through a tunnel as the situation was already tense at the entrance to the festival site.

Schaller fired back at accusations of wrongdoing, noting that his security concept had received official city approval.


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