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Update: Malawi VP Saulos Chilima’s plane found with no survivors, says president

Saulos Klaus Chilima

The wreck of a plane carrying Malawi’s vice-president has been found with no survivors, President Lazarus Chakwera has said.

Saulos Chilima and nine others were flying within the country on Monday morning when their aircraft disappeared from airport radars.

The plane, a military aircraft, was flying in bad weather.

Soldiers had been searching Chikangawa Forest overnight and into the morning in an effort to find the plane.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, President Chakwera said the Malawi Defence Force commander informed him that the search and rescue operation has been completed and the plane was found.

Mr Chakwera said he was “deeply saddened and sorry” to inform Malawians of the terrible tragedy.

He said the rescue team found the aircraft completely destroyed.

The vice-president and president come from different parties but the two teamed up to form an alliance during the 2020 elections.

President Chakwera paid tribute to Dr Chilima, describing him as “a good man”, “devoted father” and “formidable VP”.

“I consider it one of the great honours of my life to have had him as a deputy and as a counsellor,” he added.

Dr Chilima, 51, was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former government minister Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago.

Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on the flight, which took off from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

It was meant to land at the airport in the northern city of Mzuzu, but was turned back because of poor visibility.

The military has began transporting human remains from the crash to Lilongwe, the president said, adding that funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

Dr Chilima had been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.

He was widely loved in Malawi, particularly among the youth, AFP news agency reports.

However, Dr Chilima was arrested and charged in 2022 on allegations that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts.

Last month, the court dropped the charges, giving no reasons for the decision.

Dr Chilima is married with two children.

BBC

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