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Tragic Plane Crash Kills Malawi’s Vice President and 9 Others

Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other people died in a plane crash in the Chikangawa mountain range, causing immense sadness throughout the nation of Malawi. The military aircraft vanished off radar on Monday morning while it was traveling from Lilongwe to Mzuzu. Tuesday saw the recovery of the wreckage following a protracted search with help from outside.

Details of Plane Crash the Incident 

Due to bad weather and little visibility, the 1988-delivered Dornier 228-type twin propeller aircraft belonging to the Malawian armed services crashed. The original plan was for the aircraft, which took off from Lilongwe, to land at Mzuzu airport. The pilot was advised by air traffic authorities to head back to the capital because of the bad weather. Following this instruction, the aircraft vanished from radar, sparking a vigorous search and rescue effort. 

The Search and Rescue Effort

In a televised speech, President Lazarus Chakwera declared the wreckage’s discovery and confirmed that every passenger had died. Hundreds of soldiers, police officials, and forest rangers combed through the dense forest and rough terrain during the more than 24-hour search. Several nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Israel, sent technological support, and the U.S. Embassy lent a Defense C-12 aircraft for the mission (NYT). 

Victims of the Plane Crash

Along with other military commanders and staff members, Vice President Saulos Chilima and former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri also died in the crash. Noting that the jet was “completely destroyed” and that every passenger perished on impact, President Chakwera called the sight tragic. The deceased’ remains were moved to Lilongwe, where a 21-day mourning period would begin on June 11 and last throughout the country. 

National and International Reactions

Shockwaves from the devastating news have spread throughout Malawi and beyond. In a moving homage, President Chakwera described Chilima as “a good man, a devoted father and husband, and a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction.” After returning from an official trip to South Korea, the vice president was thought to be a strong candidate for the next presidential contest.

International sympathies flowed in, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his sorrow and support for the Malawian people. In expressing his sorrow at Chilima’s passing, former president Joyce Banda called Chilima “a genius” and “a champion” for Malawi’s business and industry (Al Jazeera). 

Chilima’s Legacy

The 51-year-old Saulos Chilima was a well-known politician in Malawi. He was re-elected in 2020 with President Chakwera after serving as vice president under former President Peter Mutharika from 2014 to 2019. Known for his commitment to combating corruption, Chilima was initially accused of graft in 2022 but the accusations were eventually withdrawn. After resigning from his role as CEO of Airtel Malawi, he entered politics and quickly gained acclaim for his leadership abilities and knowledge of economics. 

Moving Forward

President Chakwera underlined the importance of resilience and solidarity as the country struggles with this tragic loss. In order to avert such tragedies, he gave the people the assurance that the deceased would be buried with dignity and that the government would keep looking into the crash’s causes. 

This sad incident has brought attention to the difficulties and dangers of flying during inclement weather, particularly in areas with untamed and forested terrain. As the country works to get past this tragic loss and find healing, it will be remembered what Saulos Chilima and his fellow travelers left behind. 

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