LONDON – A light aircraft with 5 German nationals on board has been missing off the coast of Costa Rica since Friday evening.
The aircraft, a privately owned pressurized Piaggio P.180 Avanti twin turboprop registered D-IRSG, had departed from Mexico bound for Limon, a coastal city on Costa Rica’s Caribbean east coast. All contact with the aircraft was lost at around 6.00pm local time on Friday (1200 UTC Saturday).
Images: Aircraft flight path & data. Source: FlightRadar24
Although the details of the passengers have yet to be formally confirmed, a spokesperson for McFit – Germany’s largest chain of fitness centres – has been reported by Germany’s Bild newspaper as disclosing that the company CEO and founder Rainer Schaller (53) and his partner Christiane Schikorsky and their two children Aaron and Finja were aboard the light aircraft.
The Piaggio reportedly departed from Palenque in Mexico and had been airborne for just over two and a half hours before radio contact was lost.
A search for the aircraft, which disappeared from contact near to the coast, was initiated by the National Coast Guard and Air Surveillance assets. Due to inclement weather, the search was subsequently suspended.
Photo: Rainer Schaller Photo Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Rainer Schaller (born 4 January 1969) is a German entrepreneur. He is the Founder CEO of the RSG Group, which includes the McFit, John Reed and Gold’s Gym fitness studios. The McFit gym chain has over 200 centres throughout Germany as well as other European locations, and boasts a membership of over 1.4 million patrons.
Schaller hit headlines as a result of a tragic disaster at the 2010 Love Parade in Duisburg, when a stampede left 21 people dead and 652 injured.
Search for missing aircraft to continue
According to Costa Rican Minister for Public Safety, Jorge Torres, the search for the missing aircraft is due to resume on Saturday local time, however weather conditions continue to be bad.
Image: Current weather Limon, Costa Rica. Source: Weather-Atlas.com
UPDATE 3.25pm UTC Saturday 22 Oct
Reports are filtering through that items of wreckage consistent with an aircraft have been sighted during a surveillance flight approximately 28 km [17 mi] from Limón airport, including what appears to be parts of a fuselage, seats and a bag.
It appears local TV station Teletica TV has issued the report, citing the Costa Rican the Ministry of Public Security.
UPDATE 6.00am UTC Sunday 23 Oct
The Costa Rican Vice Minister of Public Security, Martin Arias has stated that:
“Twenty-eight kilometers from the Limón airport, in the Caribbean Sea, wreckage was located that apparently indicates that it is the aircraft. At the moment we have not located any bodies or people alive,” Vice Minister of Public Security Martin Arias said.
Some time later, the local TV channel Teletica TV further cited the ministry as saying that two bodies – one adult and one child – had since been recovered.
Update 10.45am UTC Sunday 23 Oct
As the search for wreckage and survivors continues, authorities now fear that the occupants of the aircraft are now dead. It is now understood that six occupants were on board the aircraft – a Swiss pilot and 5 German passengers.
This is a continuing story. Check back for updates.