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11 Jun, 2024 13:21

No survivors found as missing plane with African VP located

Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others have been killed in crash, government has confirmed
No survivors found as missing plane with African VP located

The wreckage of the missing military airplane carrying Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima and nine others has been found with no survivors, the southern African nation’s president, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, has announced.

President Chakwera canceled a planned trip to the Bahamas and ordered a search-and-rescue operation for the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) aircraft, which disappeared from radar after leaving the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

According to authorities, the late VP and the others, including former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri, were traveling to the northern city of Mzuzu to represent the government at the burial of an ex-justice minister, Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago. The flight was scheduled to last 45 minutes, but the plane, which was said to be flying in bad weather, never arrived at its destination.

Earlier on Tuesday, MDF Commander Valentino Phiri told reporters that the plane might have crashed in Chikangawa Forest and that search-and-rescue operations had been hampered by foggy conditions. Soldiers had spent the night and early morning searching Chikangawa Forest for the plane.

Speaking at a news briefing on Tuesday, President Chakwera said he had been informed by the MDF commander that the search-and-rescue operation had been completed and the plane had been found.

“I am deeply saddened and sorry to inform you all that it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy. The search-and-rescue team has found the aircraft near a hill in the Chikangawa Forest. They found it completely destroyed with no survivors, as all passengers on board were killed on impact,” the president said.

Arrangements for the burial of the victims would be announced later today, Chakwera added.

Chilima, 51, had served as vice president of Malawi, a country with a population of approximately 20 million, since 2014.

Just last month, a Malawi court dismissed corruption charges filed against Chilima in 2022, after the director of public prosecutions filed a notice to discontinue the action.

The former vice president was arrested in 2022 on graft allegations after the country’s corruption watchdog claimed he got paid for helping two companies linked to British businessman Zuneth Sattar, Xaviar Ltd and Malachitte FZE, to secure contracts from the Malawi government. Chilima denied the allegations.

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