Costa Rica finds 2 bodies in plane crash carrying Germans

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Authorities in Costa Rica have found two bodies in the search for six people, including apparently the German businessman behind Gold’s Gym, who disappeared when their small plane disappeared from radar just off the country’s Caribbean coast.

The Ministry of Security said the bodies of an adult and a child had been found, but the bodies had not yet been identified.

Researchers also found backpacks and bags, as well as pieces of the plane.

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

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 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. At least one other person on the plane appeared to be a relative of Schaller, but the relationship was not immediately confirmed by authorities.

The researchers are focusing on a site located about 28 kilometers off the coast of Limon airport.

The plane was an Italian-made nine-seat Piaggio P180 Avanti, known for its distinctive profile. He disappeared from radar as he headed for Limon, a seaside resort on the coast.

The security minister 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 is listed as « Founder, Owner and CEO of RSG Group », a conglomerate of 21 fitness, lifestyle and fashion brands that operates in 48 countries and has 41,000 employees, either directly or through franchises.

The RSG group did not respond to requests for comment on whether Schaller was on board the plane.

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.

Javier Cordoba, Associated Press


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