Malawi Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima Killed in Plane Crash Along with 9 Others

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Malawi’s Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima and nine others tragically perished in a plane crash in the Chikangawa mountain range, the government confirmed on Tuesday. In response, President Lazarus Chakwera declared Tuesday a national day of mourning.

The Office of the President and Cabinet released a statement on Tuesday morning confirming the deaths after a more than day-long search effort in the forested mountains of northern Malawi. The military plane, which had taken off from the capital Lilongwe on Monday morning, was headed to a funeral for the country’s former attorney general when it lost radar contact.Malawi

“Unfortunately, all on board have perished in the crash,” the statement read. Initially, it was reported that Chilima’s wife, Mary, was among the passengers, but this information was later questioned. The government has not yet clarified her status.

President Chakwera addressed the nation, expressing deep sorrow over the loss. “I know this is a heartbreaking situation,” he said, “and we are all frightened and concerned.”

Details of the Incident

The ill-fated flight was a small military plane, identified by the Associated Press as a Dornier 228-type twin propeller aircraft delivered to the Malawian army in 1988. The aircraft’s tail number, provided by President Chakwera, was cross-referenced with data from the ch-aviation website to ascertain this information.

Also, read; Aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice President, nine others disappear from radar

Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima, left, greets government officials upon his return from South Korea in Lillongwe, Sunday, June 9, 2024. A military plane carrying Malawi’s vice president and nine others went missing Monday and a search was underway, the president’s office said. The plane carrying 51-year-old Vice President Saulos Chilima left the capital, Lilongwe, but failed to make its scheduled landing(AP Photo)

The plane was advised to return to Lilongwe due to poor visibility when it disappeared off radar. The Vice President, along with seven military officers and two other passengers, were on their way to Mzuzu airport, approximately 200 miles north of Lilongwe.

International Support

Several countries, including the United States, provided technological support in the search operation. The U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe issued a statement on Tuesday morning expressing deep concern over the crash and offering assistance, including the deployment of a Defense C-12 aircraft.

Chilima’s Political Career

Dr. Saulos Chilima, 51, was considered a possible contender in next year’s presidential election. Despite facing controversy over graft allegations, he remained a significant political figure in Malawi. In 2022, he was arrested on charges of receiving kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for government contracts, charges he consistently denied until they were dropped last month by the national prosecutor.

Ongoing Investigation

The government has pledged to continue the search and rescue operations and to investigate the cause of the crash thoroughly. President Chakwera’s administration is working to provide support to the families of the victims and the nation as a whole during this time of mourning.

The tragic loss of Vice President Chilima and the other passengers marks a somber moment in Malawi’s history, with the nation and the international community mourning the sudden and unexpected loss of a key political figure and several military personnel.

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