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Malawi vice president among 10 dead in aircraft crash

Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima was killed in a plane crash, the nation's president said on Tuesday, after searchers located the wreckage of the aircraft in a foggy forest.

Agencies and A News AFRICA
Published June 11,2024
Saulos Klaus Chilima, Malawi's incumbent Vice President and president for the United Transformation Movement (UTM), leaves the Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre on May 6, 2020. (AFP File Photo)

Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others on board a military aircraft that went missing on Monday morning have all died, the country's president announced.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday afternoon, President Lazarus Chakwera said all those on board the aircraft died soon after it had crashed in the heavily forested area of Chikangawa in the northern city of Mzuzu on its way back to Lilongwe after it had failed to land at Mzuzu International Airport due to poor weather visibility.

"Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima was a good man. A patriotic citizen of the country. A formidable vice president who served his country with distinction. It was one of the greatest honors of my life to have had him as my deputy and counselor for the past four years," Chakwera said.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found on Tuesday morning with no survivors.

Among those who died include former first lady Shanil Muluzi.

The aircraft carrying the vice president left the county's capital Lilongwe on Monday en route to the country's northern region city of Mzuzu where he was scheduled to attend a funeral ceremony of the country's former minister of justice and attorney general Ralph Kasambara who died suddenly on Friday.

According to the Malawi Defence Force, the aircraft failed to land as scheduled at Mzuzu International Airport due to poor weather visibility and was forced to return to Lilongwe, but it later disappeared from the radar on its way back.

A 51-year-old corporate executive-turned-politician, Saulos Chilima joined mainstream politics in 2014 when he became vice president to Arthur Peter Mutharika. In 2020, he teamed up with President Chakwera in fresh elections after the county's constitutional court had nullified the 2019 elections.