Malawi’s president says VP killed in plane crash

by Admin
Malawi's president says VP killed in plane crash

Malawi’s president said Vice President Saulos Chilima, his wife and eight others were killed when their plane crashed in a dense forest Monday.

In a televised address to the nation Tuesday, President Lazarus Chakwera said search and rescue teams found the “completely destroyed” wreckage of the plane near a hill in Malawi’s Chikangawa forest. He said there were no survivors.

The 51-year-old Chilima and his party were aboard a military aircraft that departed the capital, Lilongwe, at 9:17 a.m. local time Monday, bound for the northern city of Mzuzu. When bad weather prevented it from landing at the Mzuzu airport, the plane was ordered to return to the capital. It went missing a short time later.

In his comments, Chakwera called the accident “heartbreaking” and said he understood the helplessness the nation feels from the loss. He described the vice president as a good man, devoted father and husband who served his country with distinction.

“I consider it one of the great honors of my life to have him as my deputy and counselor for the past four years,” he said of Chilima.

Malawi’s military led the search for the aircraft, and received help from neighboring nations, according to Malawi Defense Force Commander Paul Valentino Phiri. He said the search, which went on through the night, was hampered by bad weather and rugged terrain.

Seven passengers, including former Malawi first lady Shanil Dzimbiri and three military crew members, were on board the aircraft, a twin-engine propeller driven Dornier 228-202K.

In his remarks, President Chakwera said he had flown in the plane himself, and the crew had successfully operated it hours before the crash.

First elected vice president in 2014, Chilima is reported to have been widely popular in Malawi, particularly among young people, and was considered a candidate for president in next year’s elections.

But in 2022, Chilima was stripped of his powers after being arrested and charged with graft over a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman.

Last month, a Malawian court dropped the charges, and he resumed his official duties.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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