Gold’s Gym owner Rainer Schaller, 5 others feared dead after plane crash off Costa Rica

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

The Security Ministry said the bodies of one adult and one child have been found but they have not yet been identified.

Searchers also found backpacks, bags and pieces of the plane.

All five passengers were believed to be German citizens, said Security Minister Jorge Torres. The plane’s pilot was Swiss.

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

Torres said the impact appeared to be “very strong” but that the coast guard was continuing its search.

A flight plan filed for the small plane listed Rainer Schaller as a passenger. A man by the same name runs international chains of fitness and gym outlets, including Gold’s Gym and McFit. At least one other person of those aboard the plane seemed to be a relative of Schaller, but the relation was not immediately confirmed by authorities.

The German newspaper Bild had reported that Schaller, his partner and their two children and another unnamed man were passengers on the plane, citing a company spokesman.

Searchers are concentrating on a site about 17 miles off the coast from the Limon airport.

The plane was a nine-seat Italian-made Piaggio P180 Avanti, known for its distinctive profile. It disappeared from radar as it was heading to Limon, a resort town on the coast.

The security minister said the flight had set out from Mexico.

“Around six in the afternoon we received an alert about a flight coming from Mexico to the Limon airport, carrying five German passengers,” Torres said. A search started immediately but was called off temporarily due to bad weather.

Rainer Schaller is listed as “Founder, Owner and CEO of the 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 had been aboard the plane.

Schaller was in the news in 2010 for his role as organizer of the Berlin Love Parade techno festival. A crush at the event killed 21 people and injured more than 500. Authorities at the time said Schaller’s security failed to stop the flow of people into a tunnel when the situation was already tense at the entrance to the festival grounds.

Schaller fought back against the accusations of wrongdoing, noting that his security concept received official city approval.

AFP contributed to this report.

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