Malawi Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima & 9 others die in plane crash after aircraft vanished over mountain forest

Malawi Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima & 9 others die in plane crash after aircraft vanished over mountain forest
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MALAWI’S vice president and nine others have been killed after their military jet crashed into a mountainous forest.

A huge search operation was launched after the plane carrying Dr Saulos Chilima, 51, failed to land at Mzuzu International Airport on Monday.

AFP

Malawi’s Vice President, Saulos Chilima, has died in a plane crash[/caption]

The politician and nine others were traveling on a military jet

The jet, which also had former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri on board, left the southern African nation’s capital, Lilongwe, at 9.17am local time and was due to arrive 45 minutes later.

But air traffic control warned the pilot not to attempt a landing and to turn around because of bad weather, President Lazarus Chakwera said.

Air traffic control then lost contact with the jet and it vanished from radar a short time later.

Frantic search crews combed through the area for hours before eventually tracking down the wreckage.

The President’s office confirmed all ten on board had been killed.

A statement said: “The aircraft, which was carrying the Vice President, the Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima, w was found this morning in the Chikangawa forest.

“Unfortunately, all on board have perished in the crash.

“The President has declared a national day of mourning and has ordered that all flags fly at half-mast from today until the day of the funeral.”

Chakwera said Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former President Bakili Muluzi, was also one of the passengers.

The group was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister.

Three of those onboard were the military crew flying the plane, the president said.

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Chilima had been vice president since 2020.

He was a candidate in the 2019 Malawian presidential election and finished third.

That vote was won by incumbent Peter Mutharika but was annulled by Malawi’s Constitutional Court because of irregularities. Chakwera finished second in that election.

Chilima then joined Chakweras campaign as his running mate in an historic election rerun in 2020, when Chakwera was elected president.

It was the first time in Africa that an election result that was overturned by a court resulted in a defeat for the sitting president.

The vice president had been facing corruption charges over allegations that he received money in return for influencing the awarding of government contracts, but prosecutors dropped the charges last month.

That led to criticism that Chakwera’s administration was not taking a hard enough stance against graft.

Chilima was arrested in late 2022 and made several court appearances, but the trial had yet to start. He denied the allegations.

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