Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima, nine others killed in plane crash

World Tuesday 11/June/2024 16:03 PM
Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima, nine others killed in plane crash

Lilongwe: Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other people, including his wife, were killed as the plane they were onboard crashed in the Chikangawa mountain range, CBS News reported, citing the government.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera declared Tuesday a national day of mourning. The announcement was made in a statement released by the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The statement reads, unfortunately, all on board have perished in the crash, which happened on Monday morning after the military aircraft took off from Malawi's capital Lilongwe.

Saulos Chilima and others onboard the aircraft were travelling to attend the funeral of Malawi's former attorney general when their plane dropped off the radar, according to CBS News report.

Air traffic officials said the plane was not able to land at Mzuzu airport, about 200 miles north of Lilongwe, due to poor visibility, and the pilot had been advised to head to the capital when the flight disappeared.

In a televised address on Monday night (local time), Chawera said that the search and rescue operation would continue until Chilima's plane was found. He said, "I know this is a heartbreaking situation," adding that, "and we are all frightened and concerned."

Several nations, including the US, provided technological support to Malawi in the search operation, CBS News reported. In a statement posted on X, the US Embassy in Lilongwe said it was "deeply concerned by the news of the crash" and added an offer of "all available assistance including a Defense C-12 aircraft."

Chilima (51) was seen in Malawi as a possible contender for the presidential election set to be held in 2025. Earlier in 2022, he was arrested on graft allegations, amid reports that he had received kickbacks from a businessman for government contracts. However, the charges were denied by Chilima, the report said.

Earlier in May, the charges against Saulos Chilima were dropped by the national prosecutor, who registered a notice for the discontinuation of the case.