Monday, June 17, 2024

Malawi vice-president and nine others killed in plane crash

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The vice-president of Malawi and nine others have died in a plane crash, the country’s president has said.

The flight – carrying vice-president Saulos Chilima, six other passengers and three military crew members – “went off radar” after leaving the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and forest rangers were searching for the plane after it went missing while making the 45-minute flight from Lilongwe to the city of Mzuzu.

It was found destroyed in a mountainous part of the Chikangawa Forest, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera said on Tuesday.

He added: “I’m deeply saddened, I’m sorry to inform you all that it has turn (sic) out to be a terrible tragedy.

“The search and rescue team has found the aircraft near a hill… they have found it completely destroyed with no survivors.”

The site of a plane crash in a mountainous area in the north of Malawi, which killed the vice president and nine others

He also said air traffic controllers told the plane not to attempt a landing at Mzuzu’s airport because of bad weather and poor visibility.

After asking the plane to turn back Lilongwe, Chakwera said air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar.

The group – which also included former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former president Bakili Muluzi – was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister

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Chilima was seen as a potential candidate in next year’s presidential election and was serving his second term as vice-president.

He was arrested in 2022 over allegations he received money in return for influencing the awarding of government procurement contracts for the Malawi armed forces and the police.

A Malawi court dropped the charges against him last month after the director of public prosecutions filed a notice for the case to be discontinued. Chilima also denied any wrongdoing.

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