Malawi's Vice President Chilima and Nine Others Killed in Aircraft Crash

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Malawi's President, Lazarus Chakwera, has confirmed that the country's Vice President, Saulos Chilima, along with nine other individuals, has tragically lost their lives in an aircraft crash.

Malawi's Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, along with nine other individuals, including his wife, tragically lost their lives in a plane crash within the Chikangawa mountain range, as announced by the government on Tuesday. President Lazarus Chakwera declared Tuesday a national day of mourning in response to this devastating event.

"The Office of the President and Cabinet regretfully confirms that all occupants of the aircraft perished in the crash," stated a Tuesday morning release. This confirmation followed a day-long search operation in the forested terrain of northern Malawi. The military aircraft crashed on Monday morning shortly after departing from Lilongwe, the capital city.

Chilima, aged 51, and the other passengers were en route to attend the funeral of the country's former attorney general when the aircraft disappeared from radar. Air traffic authorities reported that the plane encountered difficulties landing at Mzuzu airport, located approximately 200 miles north of Lilongwe, due to poor visibility. Consequently, the pilot was instructed to return to Lilongwe before the flight ceased communication.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday, Chakwera revealed that Chilima and his wife, along with seven military officers and another passenger, were aboard a small military plane, identified by the Associated Press as a Dornier 228-type twin-propeller aircraft, which had been delivered to the Malawian army in 1988. The AP verified this information by cross-referencing the aircraft's tail number, provided by Chakwera, with data from the ch-aviation website.

Chilima, aged 51, was viewed in Malawi as a potential contender for the upcoming presidential election.

He had faced controversy, having been arrested in 2022 on corruption allegations, amidst reports of receiving kickbacks from a businessman for government contracts.

Chilima consistently refuted the charges, until last month when they were dropped by the national prosecutor, who filed a notice for the discontinuation of the case.

In a televised national address on Monday night, Chakwera assured the nation that the search and rescue operation would persist until Chilima's plane was located.

"I know this is a heartbreaking situation," he expressed, "and we are all fearful and anxious."

Several nations, including the United States, offered technological assistance in the search operation.

In a social media post on Tuesday morning, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe conveyed its deep concern regarding the crash and extended an offer of "all available assistance including a Defense C-12 aircraft."