HomeFeaturesMalawi's Vice President, 9 Others Perish In Plane Crash

Malawi’s Vice President, 9 Others Perish In Plane Crash

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A somber news has engulfed Malawi on Tuesday as President Lazarus McCarthy confirmed the passing of Vice President Saulos Chilima in a fatal plane crash. The ill-fated aircraft was found in a forest obscured by fog. This is a tragic end to a search effort that had held the nation in berthed breath.

Malawi was plunged into uncertainty on Monday when a military plane, carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others, went missing. The flight, initially destined for Mzuzu, was redirected to Lilongwe due to adverse weather, but its disappearance has sparked widespread alarm.

“The search and rescue team have found the aircraft … completely destroyed with no survivors, as all passengers on board were killed on impact,” Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera said addressing the nation.

“Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is,” he said, describing the accident as a “terrible tragedy.”

Exclusive images obtained by AFP reveal the haunting aftermath of the crash, with military rescuers standing amidst the wreckage on a fog-shrouded hillside. The debris bears the distinctive registration number of the Malawi Army Air Wing’s doomed Dornier 228-202K aircraft.

On Tuesday, the search for the missing plane shifted into high gear, with rescue teams navigating the dense, fog-shrouded forest south of Mzuzu. Their focus was trained on the precise location where the aircraft’s signal was last detected, its final transmission to a nearby tower.

The search for the missing plane became a regional effort, with neighboring countries lending their support and resources. Army Commander General Paul Valentino Phiri praised the collaborative spirit, which included the deployment of drones and helicopters to aid in the search.

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A group of mourners took off from Lilongwe at 9:00 am Monday, embarking on a 370-kilometer journey to Mzuzu to bid farewell to a former government minister.

President Chakwera revealed a personal connection to the doomed flight, having previously traveled on the same aircraft for similar journeys. He also noted that the crew had safely operated the plane just hours before the tragic incident.

Among the passengers on the ill-fated flight was Shanil Dzimbiri, the former First Lady of Malawi, adding a layer of tragedy to the devastating news

“And yet, despite the track record of the aircraft and the experience of the crew, something terrible went wrong with that aircraft on its flight back to Lilongwe, sending it crashing down,” he said.

Since his election as vice president in 2014, Saulos Chilima had become a beloved figure in Malawi, known for his magnetic charm and straightforward rhetoric, which resonated deeply with the youth.

However, Chilima’s career was rocked in 2022 when he was arrested and charged with corruption, accused of accepting bribes from a British-Malawian businessman. He was subsequently relieved of his duties as vice president.

Chilima’s legal ordeal came to an end last month when a Malawian court cleared him of all charges, enabling him to resume his duties as vice president and return to his official post.

“Chilima was a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction and a formidable vice president,” Chakwera said.

The president considered his partnership with Chilima a rare and precious opportunity, having worked together for four years as deputy and adviser.

The Eastern Updates 

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