Malawi says VP plane crash killed all onboard

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Malawi says VP plane crash killed all onboard
Saulos Chilima has been vice-president for 10 years

Chilima and nine others were flying within the country on Monday morning when their aircraft disappeared from airport radars.

LILONGWE | Malawi's vice-president Saulos Chilima was killed in a plane crash in Chikangawa forest in the north of the country, the presidency of the southern African nation has said.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Colleen Zamba, secretary to the presidency and cabinet, said a search and rescue operation had found the Malawi Defense Force aircraft that went missing on Monday with no survivors.

"The collaborative efforts culminated in the discovery of the wreckage early this morning. Unfortunately, it was confirmed that all on board had perished in the crash," Zamba said.

"President Lazarus Chakwera has been informed of the devastating news and has expressed profound condolences to the families of Dr Chilima and the other victims."

Chilima and nine others were flying within the country on Monday morning when their aircraft disappeared from airport radars.

The plane, a military aircraft, was flying in bad weather, en route to the burial of former government minister Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago.

Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on the flight, which took off from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

It was meant to land at the airport in the northern city of Mzuzu, but was turned back because of poor visibility.

The Malawian presidency said that in response to the tragedy, President Chakwera has declared a national day of mourning and ordered that all national flags be flown at half-mast from today until the day of the funeral.

Chilima, 51, has been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.

The former Malawian vice-president and his boss Chakwera come from different parties but the two teamed up to form an alliance during the 2020 elections.

The two political figureheads have had their differences recently, including in 2022 when Chilema was slapped with corruption charges on allegations that he had accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts.

A court in Lilongwe dropped the charges last month without giving reasons.

Dr Chilima is married with two children.

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